I wrote a nice big autobiographical piece for my Blogger profile, but when I try to include it in the update, I get an error. Until the issue is resolved, I’m going to go ahead and post it here. Enjoy!
I love talking about myself, and tonight I seem to be in the mood to ramble, so I hope you have some time.
My name is Heather Aubrey Meadows. I have two younger brothers, AJ and Ben, and a mom and dad. My brother AJ is married to a wonderful woman named Faye, and they have two sons, Connor and Logan. Ben is engaged to a great girl named Manda.
I was born and raised in Nicholasville, Kentucky, and until I was 7 I lived on a street called Lois Lane towards the outskirts of town. As a fan of Superman, this street name delighted me. While I lived there I went to private school at Lexington Christian School, which later became Lexington Christian Academy. I grew up using an Apple II e computer, playing games and typing and eventually writing my own BASIC programs.
Sometime around second grade, my parents moved us to a house in Nicholasville proper, and in third grade I started going to public school. I had always been a shy person, but the realization that these new people were unfriendly and superficial (at least, that was my impression) made me more reclusive than ever. By the time middle school came around–I attended East Jessamine County Middle–I was something of a freak, wearing sweat pants, T-shirts, men’s belts with huge buckles, and a brown trench coat. My hair was always back in a messy ponytail and I wore huge, red-rimmed glasses. Annoyed at how no one seemed to understand me or even want to, I began literally talking to walls, which really did my social life no good whatsoever.
Meanwhile, my dad invented a tool for electricians, which he began selling out of our house. We had to learn how to run a mail-order business essentially from scratch. Back in the beginning, before we had the parts extruded, I would cut them from a long bar of aluminum using Dad’s band saw. I’d then drill holes in them with the drill press and sand down the edges. We took orders through the mail and over the phone, and we stored customer information on 3X5 index cards until we finally, around 1993 or so, got a modern computer. I discovered “chatting” at the age of 15 on BBSes, and I engaged in all kinds of interesting and intelligent conversations there.
Come high school, I joined a kung fu class and started to try to make myself normal. If in middle school I thought I was superior to all others, in high school I strongly believed the opposite. I felt that I had stunted my own emotional development and that now I was a worm beneath everyone else’s feet. It was during this time that I developed my first real crush, a crush that lasted for years, on a guy one grade above me. He was in my kung fu class and I was highly impressed by his determination and abilities–not to mention the fact that I thought he looked like Luke Skywalker. Nothing came of this crush, of course, and the angst made it difficult for me to properly pursue normal friendships.
My junior year of high school was probably the best. I sometimes wish that I’d graduated early, to end it on a high note. I was a member of several clubs, I was physically fit, I had good friends, and I went to Florida that year for spring break, which was amazing and fun. That summer I attended the Governor’s Scholars Program, which I look back on as one of the greatest experiences of my life. I met a guy who will probably be a lifelong friend, Matt Gunterman, and I learned a lot about the world outside of high school. This made me itch to go to college.
Senior year was very depressing by comparison: I’d lost the election for BETA president, I’d quit kung fu and gained quite a bit of weight, I suddenly realized that I really didn’t have any friends–lots of people had moved away, and my regular group was all closer to each other than they were to me–and I was also very slow in applying to college, with at least one teacher telling me that I had made the wrong career decision. (He was right, but I’ll get to that later.) Plus, GSP had shown me how cool college life was going to be (or so I assumed), and I was bored with the high school dynamic.
Needless to say, I was very happy to get out of high school. In the fall of 1996, I packed up and moved to Huntsville, Alabama to learn to be a mechanical engineer. The idea of pursuing this profession had come to me after a friend’s little sister informed me that astronauts had to have 20/20 vision. Indeed, I had been toying with the idea of becoming an astronaut. The new knowledge devastated me, but I decided–in typical martyr fashion–that if I couldn’t be an astronaut, I’d be the next best thing and design the ships astronauts flew in. This decision had absolutely nothing to do with whether or not I would actually like mechanical engineering.
It turned out that while the general principles were interesting, I was very bored by the specific details. I slacked off in class, missed tests, and failed/withdrew from some courses while getting Ds and Cs in others. I did manage an A in physics lab, but I already knew at that point that I’d chosen the wrong path.
It was during this first year of college that I did something pretty horrible, even though at the time I thought I was somehow justified. During the first hall meeting, my roommate and I met a guy who lived across the hall (yes, co-ed floors; can you believe it? We lived in four person suites with two bathrooms apiece, too. UAH had it good). This guy ended up dating my roommate, but over time it came out that he’d originally wanted to date me instead. As time passed and he began seeking me out more and more as a means to “escape” my roommate’s temper and perceived selfishness, I found myself wanting to date him as well. By the end of the first semester, it was decided that he’d break up with her and go out with me after my roommate had a chance to move out.
(This rather clinical description is as far as I’m going to go in this profile, but bear in mind that it was far more messy than that.)
The next semester saw me enjoying myself, wasting all of his money and treating him like crap–because he let me. I’d tell him to do something and he’d do it. He wouldn’t change his opinions for me–he was a staunch atheist and Democrat–but pretty much anything else went. The most telling aspect of our relationship is the fact that while I was satisfied sexually, he was not, and I didn’t want to satisfy him.
I broke up with him twice during that semester. I felt like I was leading him on, that since I knew I didn’t really love him I should set him free. But he always wanted me back, always slipped into such great depression that I felt that maybe I should be with him, should try to help him, should try to love him. It didn’t work. I’ve come to realize that you can’t be in love with someone you pity. (Sympathy is another matter entirely, though.)
Over the summer I tried to break up with him again, only to say I’d take him back…but by that time he’d had enough, and he broke it off with me. I have to say that that moment was the most bittersweet of our entire relationship. He was standing up for himself and doing what I wasn’t strong enough to do, which automatically made him infinitely more attractive, but at the same time I felt an inordinate sense of freedom. I felt that I could live again, that my mistake was finally over.
My behavior was inexcusable, and I am ashamed of how I treated both my boyfriend and my roommate. My roommate has since graciously forgiven me, and we saw each other once when she came into Lexington for a family wedding. I have no idea what happened to my ex; he seems to have dropped off the face of the Internet.
I considered my first year of college to be a dismal failure at the time, although now I look back on it as a learning experience. In any event, I dropped out of UAH and made no immediate plans to return to school. I had no purpose, no direction, and then no boyfriend…so I started fresh, got my first real job–at Willis Music in Lexington Green mall–and bought my first car.
I’d only been working for a few months when I was diagnosed with biphenaltypic leukemia and admitted into the University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center. From September of 1997 until April of 1998 I lived on the third floor of Markey, only occasionally being allowed to go home for visits. I underwent three rounds of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, and I of course lost all my hair. I also had a catheter implanted in my chest, which left a round scar the size of a dime between my breasts, and due to abdominal pain during treatments I also had an exploratory procedure that left a six inch scar across my stomach. As I was immuno-suppressed, this wound didn’t heal for months.
While I was in the hospital, I got online quite a bit–my mom brought my computer in and I used my hospital room’s telephone to log on during the evening. Typically I stayed awake all night, met with the docs in the morning, and then went to sleep. During this time, I learned how to make webpages in Microsoft Word. (Yes, I know; you can stop writhing in agony at any time.) I also chatted quite a bit on IRC and ICQ.
Despite being able to get online and play around, I was still very much tired of being cooped up and having my life on hold. Once I was free to go, I immediately registered for classes at UK, signing up for whatever sounded remotely interesting. I ran into my old high school crush at orientation that summer, and was highly embarrassed to have him see me bald. It’s strange how strong feelings like that can come back years later…but obviously, nothing came of seeing him again.
1998 was a highly eventful year, apparently, because that was also when I started growing closer and closer to a guy I met through a Robotech chatroom. I’ll spoil any possible suspense and let you know right now that I am currently married to that guy.
We first met in person in the summer of 1999, when I drove down to visit him in Augusta, Georgia for two weeks. In many ways that trip felt foreign and strange, and in many other ways it felt like coming home. We knew each other so well online, but being in person really added to the breadth of knowledge. Facets that I hadn’t had to consider before were now large factors. It was an intriguing shift from an “online relationship” into a “long distance relationship”.
We managed to stay together, long distance, while I finished college. I considered transferring to a college closer to him, but ultimately I decided that I didn’t really want to take all the core classes over, so I’d best stick it out. Plus, after 13 months of working full time I quit my job to pay more attention to my studies, so I couldn’t have really afforded to move out of my parents’ house anyway. I stayed in Kentucky until I finally graduated in fall of 2002. (During this time I traded my old car, a 1993 Ford Taurus, for a 1998 Ford Escort. I loved that car, and drove it until I unfortunately totaled it in an accident on my way home from a trip to see Sean. After that I had no car payments, due to the fact that I inherited my grandfather’s 1986 Subaru GL hatchback, so I was able to quit my job at GRW Aerial Surveys, which was data entry that had already gotten boring, and did so without much remorse.)
After taking several different courses in things that sounded interesting, I ended up majoring in Linguistics and minoring in Japan Studies, and towards the end of my college career I tacked on a major in English because I had more than enough credits. I really stumbled into Linguistics and Japan Studies randomly; I’d taken courses because they sounded like fun and I ended up loving it all. I wasn’t sure what I would do with my degrees, but I felt that doing linguistics or something involving Japan–or, preferably, both–would make me happy.
On January 2, 2003, my whole family drove down to Augusta to help me move into a beautiful apartment and to celebrate my wedding. On January 4, 2003, Sean and I were married in a small ceremony at Augusta Golf and Gardens, where multiple pictures were taken, and then we enjoyed a reception at the apartment clubhouse before my family left to return to Kentucky and Sean and I finally began our new lives as husband and wife.
The first year was a big transition for me; living away from my family was very difficult, more difficult than I remembered it being from Huntsville. This was largely due to the fact that I didn’t have a job or anything else to really do during the day once the apartment was settled. I made frequent trips to Kentucky and felt very cut off and alone.
Towards the end of 2003, I received a data entry job offer from a good friend of ours, a former boss of Sean’s. I took it. From these extraordinarily humble beginnings, I worked my way up to the business manager position at the company, 2go-Box, a local restaurant marketing firm (and now, a delivery service). My background working with my parents’ business, plus my natural sense for organization and customer service, have really helped me to blossom in the new position. I work closely with the president and salesperson, Robert, and am planning on starting my own business one day.
Due to the cancer treatments, it seems that I am unable to have children. This has been a blight on an otherwise very happy existence. I still fall into depression about it. On the plus side, being over five years in remission means that it’s extraordinarily unlikely that my cancer will return.
In 2004 I became closer friends with some great people who live in and around North Augusta. If I had to make an analogy, I’d say that North Augusta is a lot like Nicholasville, while Augusta would be Lexington, and the area where Sean and I currently live (to the west of Augusta) is something like the Richmond Road/Man O War side of Lexington. Essentially, Sean and I are on a growing, developing, prospering side of town with lots of popular stores (the Augusta Exchange is just down the road) and restaurants. North Augusta is growing, too, but the sheer distance from our side of town, plus the fact that it’s in South Carolina, makes it feel a little different. It’s not on the cutting edge of growth, though I imagine it will get there someday; instead, it just feels like a really nice place. I’ve been thinking very seriously that it would be nice to buy a house there and really settle down. This is a far cry from my depression of 2003, during which I wanted to run home to Kentucky at the soonest possibility. I’m finally fitting in, making friends, forming routines, and doing a job I love. I finally feel like I’m home.