There are so many things that happen to us in our lives that send us down different paths. We can’t tell at the time how these things are going to affect our life or how it will to lead to more changes. I think everyone has said at some point, when talking about their life, “If I had known then what I know now, would I have decided to do things differently?” or, “What if I had chosen not to do (this thing), where would I be now? What would I be doing different?”
I think this quite often, because there has been a lot of change in my life that was set in motion by very distinct things. Would my life have found a different way to get to the same place? Would I like where I am if I had done or not done certain things?
I don’t know why today I started thinking about one certain thing, but it was a whopper of a life changer. Some changes are little bends and some are sharp turns to the left. Here goes: I was pregnant with my now 36 year old daughter. I had a successful circuit of piano bars where I sang and played piano in Houston. I’m sure I played every piano bar in the city as well as all over the state. I made a fairly decent income. Physically I was in great physical condition, taking jazz dance classes until I started to dilate, gained 18 pounds and lost 18 pounds before I left the hospital. I had a husband I kicked of the house when I was 7 months along because of his drug usage and failure to keep a job. I had a nice condo near the Galleria, if you know Houston, which at least 36 years ago was a nice part of town.
Here is the life changer. I met a man, an architect, who had a contract to design an inside remodel of the Gee House, a Bruce Goff design. Bruce Goff, earlier in life apprenticed under Frank Lloyd Wright. His homes are works of art. This man came into a piano bar where I was singing, and then started following me around to other gigs. He took a lot of pictures of me while singing. This is one.
He showered me with a lot of attention. He put me on a pedestal. I allowed him to convince me to move with him to Oklahoma City. I didn’t think I’d have any problem getting gigs. But I didn’t check. Once I got there I found out the city was dry. No open bars that sold alcohol and no piano bars. I was derailed. I was making no money, a baby and a three year old and a man who because very mentally abuse. Everything that attracted him to me he tried to change or destroy. It took 2 years and much anguish to run. He destroyed self confidence. He’d keep me awake all night lecturing me. His God was Ayn Rand. He thought I was his Dagny Taggart. I was told I showed my children too much affection. To him, sex was a way to show respect – everyday, whether you wanted to or not. He kept score on the wall behind the bed separated into who initiated it. It had to be 50/50 and he let me know if I was falling behind. The thought of sex made me ill, but if I didn’t do it he made my life hell. I suffered through it. He made me hate sex – for a long time. By now we were now living in LA. because of another architectural job. I now had no car. I couldn’t work, because without a car and 2 young children how do I get around? Yet he demanded I make money or he’d put my belongings on the street. He also told me he wanted me to have another baby but I’d have to sign a contract promising we’d stay together for five years, because he felt a child needed his mother that long and then he would get full custody of the child. I had to get out of there. Through this time I continued to write music. I worked with musicians but made little money. He got angrier with me for failing to live up to his ideal woman.
I got a call from a band I had auditioned with earlier – Robin Crow. Was I still interested and could I go on the road with them? He had just finished a second album, Finish Line, and lost his keyboard player. I had a way out. I ran away so fast. Hate mail followed me to Colorado, home base for the band. And just in case I missed any letters, years later he made copies of everything, bound them together and sent them to me. I still have them somewhere but I never read them. Even more years later he wrote to me and apologized profusely for what he had done to me. He was dying from throat cancer so I guess he was making amends. He had high goals as an architect and he was very good, but he died in his 40’s without making the name for himself he thought he should.
I know where my life went on from there and led me here but . . .
What if he had not come into the club where I was singing? And this . . . What if my husband, father of both my children, when I kicked him out, had not gone to the bank and cleaned out the savings account set up to pay the hospital forso I was forced to continue to play gigs until 10 days before she was born to put the money back which put me in the position of meeting him in the first place. What if. . .what if . . .what if. And what if the other sharp turns I made had gone in a different direction.
Where would I be now? What would have changed? What would not have changed? Would I change where I am now if I could? Would I want rings to be different? Did these crisis teach me things I needed to know? I think so. Would the same type of things happen anyway because the karma was there? Seriously, do we really look at the decisions we are about to make and think about the consequences, or do we just follow the path of least resistance?
I think I followed along the path that “felt” right and the path the promised the most diversity. I realized long ago that I thrive on change. Living in one town my whole life or working the same boring job for decades even if I hated it because it paid well, scared me. The thought of waking up and realizing my life was a dream and I was really a dental assistant living in planned community scared the crap out of me. (I’m not slamming dental assistants, if you are one. It just would have not worked for me) The boredom of it all held no interest for me. FOR ME – not you. I tried a real job once but that kind of predictability isn’t for me. At my age of 62, I see people who lived the kind of life that would have shriveled me up like a raison, and now that the boring job is gone, they don’t know what to do. Risk taking and doing what you want to do isn’t something you learn over night. When there is nothing to take the place of “the job”and they don’t know how to take risks and go be something else they might feel too old to start again.
I have had dozens of these sharp turns to the left. If I hadn’t taken one, another one would have materialized. But my life affected my children and that has affected their children so we should always proceed with caution.
So what do you think changed your life?
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