Marrying at the unripe age of 22 obviously put a hold on my writing plans, however tenuous those plans were. At that time I hadn’t truly committed to writing in the real sense of the word, although the idea remained in my head. I was what is commonly known as a dreamer. The fog-like state of thoughts without action would last for a few years while I became familiar with terms acquainted with married life like responsibility, budgeting, compromise, exasperation, irritability, frustration, and of course, love.
No one should get married without a strong sense of identity. Growing pains are bad enough without having to cope with those of someone else as well. I was split between so many different wants that I truly didn’t know who I really was or what I wanted to do in life. My wife, being the no nonsense person that she is, was more mature than I and definitely knew what she wanted. And she wasted no time in getting me housebroken and into husbandly shape. About the only she underestimated was my stubborn, silently unyielding resistance to let any force shape me other than my own.
I’m proud to say that there were no physical fights. I’d seen physical violence growing up and vowed never to repeat those acts in my own marriage. But there were arguments aplenty, most over those ridiculously insignificant things that didn’t matter except to two intimate individuals with childish temperaments not willing to budge an inch.
Even without resorting to blows, the constant back and forth grew tiresome enough to make us realize that we had some growing up to do. I decided that I would do the thing that came easy for me, the thing I did often growing up with a dangerously explosive stepfather with a knack for endlessly tiresome tirades.
I withdrew into myself.
This is what’s called ‘zoning out’, something that has greatly irritated or amused people over the years depending on the situation. I developed the habit while dismissing lectures from the aforementioned stepfather about how I’d ‘never amount to nothing, blah blah’, and honed it over time. When people realize what’s happening, that causes the irritation. I gave myself away because my I’d freeze with my eyes widened as I stared blankly into space. When I was really zoned out, my mouth would even open slightly. I think that’s called ‘escaping reality’, and I’m sure there’s a personality disorder that fits the bill. (I researched Schizoid personality disorder one time, and found it uncomfortably familiar.)
Marriage compelled me to fine-tune it so that I could nod, input the appropriate responses and still be focused on whatever imaginary world I was locked into. (That’s not marital advice, by the way, nor recommended for men trying to ignore their wives. News flash: it doesn’t make the issues go away.)
What does any of this has to do with my writing journey? I believe somewhere in those early marriage years was when the Ghost of Stories Past revisited me from the cemetery of my mind. I had never stopped writing, but it was sporadic at best and unfulfilling. But something arrived on my doorstep one day that would completely alter my life forever. No, it wasn’t a baby deposited by a mysterious passerby.
It was a computer.