Learning to Live Again

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

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| This is the 214th story of Our Life Logs |

I had dreams, plans, and a strong will to achieve. When that all went out of the window, I was not left with despair. Instead, I was left with a new beginning.

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I was born in 1981 in Columbus, Ohio, the eldest of four children. Because my mother was a homemaker and my father ran his own business from our home, their schedules were flexible enough to take our family on day trips and the occasional week away. It meant we were raised by the wonders of nature, learning to love the woods, the streams, and fields, passionately.

Me, holding my younger sister, 1984.
Me, holding my younger sister, 1984.

I was kind of a loner in school, more interested in theater and academics than my classmates. Most ignored me; a few bullied me, but I took the opportunity being alone granted and spent my time reading—and, as I grew older, writing. In seventh and eighth grade, and then in high school, I got into the school-run theater programs and started to slowly make friends. I also joined a city-wide youth choir. This choir would leave a lasting impression on me. Through it, I was able to travel and sing in various places, including music festivals statewide, Disney World in Florida, and even to Russia in my final year of membership. All these places, whether in the real world or in the crafted worlds in literature, urged me to simply get out of my comfort zone and experience life.

With my parents in Russia, 1998.
With my parents in Russia, 1998.

When it came time for college, I took my hoped-for scholarship and started at Ashland University in the autumn of 1999. I was ready for my future.

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Things changed somewhat during my junior year, which I spent studying abroad in London, England. There, I fell in love with a young man about my age named James, whom I met online during my freshman and sophomore year through a type of collaborative, character writing role-play called “play by email” (PBeM). I guess after a couple years getting to know each other through storytelling, I was smitten when we finally met in person.

Me at Thanksgiving, c.2000.
Me at Thanksgiving, c.2000.

The same year at Christmas he proposed—and I said yes! We set our wedding date for the July after my graduation, and I returned home to finish my degree and start saving money for our wedding, working two jobs to help out.

Long story short: we were married in July, had a little celebration for those who hadn’t been able to travel in August, and settled down by September, but by February, it was over. Yes, it was over. I found out he had been cheating on me—I know, it sucks—and soon after, I moved out to stay with some mutual friends who lived closer to where I worked in the post office of a town named Guildford.

I thought my life couldn’t get much worse: my heart was broken and I was making minimum wage and living in a country where I knew very few people. The days seemed to drag on forever.

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The one bright light in my life was another hobby James had previously introduced me to: live action role play (LARP). If you don’t know what it is, think about historical re-enactment, but put it in a fantasy setting. There are spells of fighting and healing, large-scale battles, and story lines put together by the company who runs the game—you get it, right? It was through this hobby that I met the man who would ultimately become my second husband.

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Image courtesy of Pixabay

His name was Adrian, and he was living 100 miles away in Bath. I fell in with his group of friends nicely, and ended up traveling there from my home nearly every weekend to visit, play games, and generally get away from what was a very lonely life.

Now, when I moved to England, I found that many of the local viruses were ones that I was not used to, and I would get sick more than the natives. Colds, the flu, and agonizing migraines kept me from working as much as I would have liked to, and in the summer of 2004 I lost my job at the post office. Now I was unemployed with no prospects. I guess life could get worse.

Thankfully, Adrian came to my aid, and helped me get a flat (or apartment) in Bath, near his home. I took temporary jobs, working as much as possible. Six months later, when Adrian decided to buy a home near his work rather than rent for another year, he invited me to join him. We were already very close, so it was a no brainer for me. In 2005, we moved in together in a small flat in a village named Bradley Stoke, near Bristol, and just down the road from his job. I was able to find permanent work in 2007. By then, we were married, having tied the knot in May that year.

Life was looking up again. I was in love and doing all the hobbies and activities that would make the younger version of me swell with happiness. Together, we joined a Gilbert and Sullivan theater club, we continued to do LARP (of course), and joined some friends in playing Dungeons and Dragons once or twice a month.

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