So, before I knew it, I was enrolled in the local Vo-Tech and learning how to use very loud and powerful tools. I attended this class in jeans, steel-toed work boots and flannel shirts. We studied our lessons and read from books, but then, we got to actually build things. I mean, real things for real people. We built an attached garage for one family. We built a wood foundation for another. (author’s note: did you know that 1” of wood = 12” of cinderblock as far as insulation goes? See, Mr. S? I remember!) We installed windows, put on roofs and installed an electric garage door opener. The best part was that I was in a class with 15 16-year old boys and one very possessive 16 year-old girl. I learned about so much more than wood that year. I learned about interpersonal relations. I learned about standing up for myself. I learned that I could look people in the eye. I learned that I could measure and make a cut within 1/64th of an inch. But, more importantly, I learned that I could learn. My self-esteem, which was pretty much in the toilet from 17 years in an oppressive marriage, rose like a barometer in an approaching storm. And, the best part? I got asked to prom!
Years later, this knowledge allowed me to enter the college classroom as an older adult. There, I took a variety of classes and learned that I could retain more than water. I loved attending with the myriad of adults, a full-spectrum of ethnicities, a huge span of ages, all there to learn. I love learning. I am one of those really odd ducks who loves to be tested on what I learn. I even like cafeteria food! My schooling was interrupted by a second marriage to a guy I thought was the best friend I had ever had. And I can tell you with boldness and assurety, I learned more from him than in any classroom. And, not to diminish the wondrous things I learned in those classrooms, but the lessons I have learned are more critically important than how to use a lathe or make a sociologic study of demographics. I am learning how tough I am and how I can endure pain and find joy and though that is the toughest work around, how to make a life work post-divorce . . . once again.