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I’d Really Love to See You Tonight

So, I’m driving home from Walmart, in the rain, mind you, when I pop on the radio and what’s playing on Sirius 70s on 7?  England Dan and John Ford Coley’s hit from 1976, “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight.”  Within 20 seconds I’m sobbing into the steering wheel and yelling at the windshield (which was foggy, but that’s neither here nor there) “That man stole my youth!!!!” 

Now, to set this outburst into context:  Before making the always-regrettable decision to head to Walmart, I’d been watching a “Modern Family” marathon, specifically, the one where Haley goes off to college, and it hit me like the head of the Statue of Liberty’s head from “Cloverfield” that I’d never, ever had those years to enjoy.  Not that I’d never mused much about it in the intervening eon, but I’d never quite thought of it in terms of what this particular song would have meant to me if I’d been spending that autumn of 1976 visiting colleges and anticipating all the cool stuff I would be experiencing, even though the real me in 1976 had absolutely no clue about college life, ­(plus, I’d been bullied so much by my father that I was afraid of my own shadow). 

This song should have been a paean to my youth.  In later years it should have evoked memories of being giggly with my roommate while we painted each other’s toenails and drank cheap wine, watching some popular coming-of-age movie (on a black-and-white TV with a wire-hanger antenna since there were no VCRs, and not a lot of cable coverage, back then).  It should have reminded me of that time when my high-school crush showed up on campus and serenaded me, al la John Cusack.  It should have reminded me of big hair and bright colored clothing and shoulder pads, and pushed–up sleeves, and …

Unfortunately, what it meant to me in my real life was this:  Throughout the summer of 1976 my parents had been pushing me, yea kicking me yea, holding a virtual gun to my head yea, forcing me at scimitar point to walk the plank into marrying a man 7+ years my senior, whom I had not ever even thought about, let alone nurtured any warmer, hotter, sexier, saltier feeling about. 

No.  At that portentous time in a girl’s life, 17, when the ED/JFC hit was playing, I was wielding a putty knife, peeling wallpaper (and trying not to gouge the plaster) in an old house next to the kingdom hall building site, singing along to the radio, dimly not having a clue about the meaning of “We’ve both played that game before, say ‘I love you’ then say goodbye.”  No.  Instead, I was cluelessly puzzling in my brain about this virtual stranger I was engaged to and why he “loved” me so much.  We’d hardly ever interacted.  He’d been away at Bethel for several years, and… (brain exit stage left) well, no matter, Mom and Dad approve very strongly of this guy, so that’s [Watchtower] good enough for me.

I spent the next 4 years doing…well, it wasn’t fun, but it was an education.

So, good-bye college, I never knew ye.


7 responses »

  1. I missed your posts! it makes me sad that you feel you’ve lost a big chunk of your life. i hope you can look ahead and live for your future instead.

  2. Glad to see you are back Sally, painful as it is to empathetically feel your pain and longing. Hope to hear more from you soon. Love, Miriam.

  3. My daughter recently found a picture of me when I was about 21. She asked “who is this?” I looked at it in horror “omg that’s me!’ I was 21 and looked dowdier than a 50 year old old maid from 100 years ago. It reminded me how miserable I was then. Married to JW that lorded over me for the previous 2 years, modest (aka dumpy) clothes and absolutely miserable. Later that night, I thought how I should have been wearing a cute revealing top and shorts, but instead I wasted my lovely 20-something body under layers of ugly clothes. I should have been going out with girlfriends, being miserable with a hangover the next day, meeting guys and finding out who I really was. Thankfully I escaped years later at 32 and was young enough to experience a little of that before I settled down with a wonderful man and had children. But I definitely feel your pain feeling like your youth was wasted. I recently found your blog and enjoy it immensely. It’s almost as if we lead parallel lives when I read it. I wish you luck (gasp! Another naughty thing JWs can’t do) and look forward to reading more!

  4. i love your writing and look forward to more

  5. You must be my age. I too was bullied by my father, not into marrying but becoming a full-time “pioneer”. I resisted it because it was not what I wanted to do. I wanted to go to college but he refused to help me get in. I wound up working instead. I went to university a lot later in life and failed to graduate. I can’t help but think he took my youth and my time when it was not his to take. In the meanwhile I’m plugging along still trying to earn a degree. Good luck to you.

  6. You are not alone. I was a pioneer and elder’s wife until I Woke Up in my 30s. I graduated college at 37 and law school at 40. I have a career that I love, but I am so proud that my daughter is now in her 2nd year of college studying in Italy for a semester. She is getting the experience that I missed. The folly of misguided sacrifice that only perpetuates a patriarchal hegemony ends with me. I firmly believe that it’s never to late to live the life that you were meant to live.

  7. Hello… Like your writing style… But it is never to late to study… When I went to college the oldest student (not in my class) was 54 years old… I studied when I was a JW, I even decided to take a class on tuesday evenings when I was supposed to go the kingdom hall, I payed for it myself though, I was an adult, but my mother was not against it, but I goofed around a lot in highschool… so… I always push highschool student to go study, if they have the intellectual capability, also as a JW I would encourage the youngsters (and a lot of them went to college, even children of pioneers ;)) Not every body is made for full time service or working in a factory till they drop (I can only imagine how unhappy I would be)… My nephew is now in his second year of animal medicine (while his high school said he would make it through the first year)… The problem with fundamentlism has always been that it is very restrictive, while faith should broaden your horizon… I’m now 40 years old and at my second year of theology, I couldn’t love it more!
    So don’t give up, as long as you live there is hope and time!


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