Thank you for the beautiful responses to last Thursday’s post. I don’t think I can quite express to all of you how much your words and encouragement means to me.
So here are some of the answers to questions I received. Kristen wanted to see a picture of me when my hair was short. I’ll admit, it was not short by most people’s standards, but to my knowledge, it was shortest in this photo from October 2006. I was also 17 weeks pregnant with Gracie here…and just barely starting to show.
I think the following photo was Tommy and I Valentine’s day 2006. This was one of maybe 2 times that I ever used hot rollers in my hair….it was longer then, but it looked a little different.
Kristen also asked about how Tommy and I fell in love. Tommy and I met during a very cold winter in 2005. The new semester had just started back up after winter break for the k-12 schools. I needed to complete some observation hours at the elementary school, and so I had returned to Kirksville a few days earlier than classes would be starting.
I had just returned from studying abroad in Mexico, and that trip had ended a 3 year? or 2 year? long romance for me. Funny now how I can’t even remember how long that relationship was. I’m sure I could calculate it, but since I’m trying to complete this while the twins are happy with Tommy, it just doesn’t matter. Anyway, I didn’t have a car, so I walked the 12 or 13 blocks to the upper elementary school, and met with the principal. She placed me with a few different teachers in the morning, and then in the afternoon, I was placed in Tommy’s classroom.
I liked him immediately. He was so charismatic with his students, and so easy to talk to. I kept remembering what my Mama had always told me that she noticed about my Papa before they were engaged (they actually never dated…but that’s a story for another time). She told me that she always noticed how good he was with children and that she knew that was very important to her.
I kept pushing the thought from my mind. You just got home Bibi. You don’t need to be one of those serial monogamists…You don’t always need to be in a relationship. I didn’t really trust myself. So for the next day and a half I just enjoyed getting to know Tommy. I laughed at his jokes, enjoyed how silly and yet somewhat strict he was with the children, and admired his confidence.
That was it. We didn’t exchange information. I started classes the following week, and I didn’t think anything of it.
As I mentioned before, I was somewhat newly out of a relationship. In a lot of ways, that relationship had taken up every waking moment for me before I had studied abroad. Before I left for Mexico, I would sometimes disappear into the library with my cell phone on silent for a few hours on my own. When I would emerge I could have 8 to 10 missed calls wondering where I was and why I hadn’t checked in. He wasn’t a bad guy, but I think we were a toxic mix for one another. We both were using the other a bit too much as a crutch. It was not healthy. In retrospect, it was part of the reason I decided I needed to leave the country when I did.
At the same time, my BFF from high school had moved back home right before I was coming home from Mexico. She was my other constant. I didn’t know who I was going to eat meals with or walk to class with, or go out with on Friday nights with both of those two out of my daily life. So I decided I was going to get more involved in things that interested me.
With that in mind, I decided to attend a protest and town hall meeting about the Kirksville watershed. The land adjacent to the watershed had recently been sold, and we were concerned about the safety of the water supply going forward. On a side note, I made the front of the University paper for the first and last time on that night.
I marched in a big crowd of students, feeling free, and impassioned. We chanted and sang along the way, marched around the town hall a few times, and then went in and stood in the crowded meeting. And who is in my sight line across the room, but Tommy Estlund…concerned citizen.
We made eyes at one another….and I may or may not have stuck my tongue out at him. Then afterwards, I went home. We still didn’t talk or make plans…..
I think I’m going to have to pick this story up again later, as it’s already much longer than I meant for it to be. I guess I’m just long winded.
But before I go, I should just mention a tiny update of what’s going on around here.
Here we are in another round of family colds. Ava and the twins ran slight fevers starting Saturday night, but that just seems to be how life goes doesn’t it? Because this week is a huge week. In less than 48 hours we will know the results of the school board election. And we’ll know if Tommy is going to be one of its members.
I am so incredibly proud of him for putting himself out there. He has received an amazing response from the community. Our city seems primed for a change in our schools. Now we see who will come out to vote. If you are in Raytown, Missouri, please get out and vote on April 7th. We sure would appreciate your vote for Thomas Estlund for the Raytown School Board.