From ten to twenty seems like such a long stretch of years. Of course there’s no way to entirely capture these ten years in just one blog post, just like there isn’t a way to capture my entire life in a few posts. This will however, give you a glimpse of what it was like being me at this age. I’ve already realized how much I missed with my first post. Like, how much my Aunt Marie (my Dad’s sister) was such an influential part of my life my first ten years. Hopefully, I can make up for it by splitting this post into two parts.
Back to Wilmington, where we were then renting an average two story home near Masonboro Sound. It had been about a year since my grandmother passed when my Dad and step-mom Rennie started looking at building a custom built home in Hampstead, about 30mins north of our current home in Wilmington. Hampstead was a small beachy town known for their seafood in the middle of God’s country. Ironically, when my Nannie came up to see us in NC before her passing, we stopped in Hampstead at a local restaurant on the way to Jacksonville, and that was the first time I had been to that small town. Little did I know that we would be moving there a year later.
They found a plot of land around two acres, and they started the clearing process. Every Thursday night we’d go up to the piece of land, do some clearing and then put together a large bonfire and roast hot dogs and marshmallows. Eventually, the home was complete. It was a beautiful white two story double balcony Charleston-style John Wieland inspired home.
During the summertime, we enjoyed spending time with my Mom. She and my step-dad Mark would drive up to NC to come pick us up, and bring us back to Atlanta in the same day. While in Atlanta, we’d accompany my Mom in the nursing home where she lived and was a caretaker for the elderly. On her off days, we’d love to go roller skating. It was our absolute favorite thing EVER! My brother and I ruled the roller rink at “Skate Along USA” off Beaver Ruin Rd in Lilburn. Those were the days. Absolutely no worries or responsibilities. Where my biggest concern was whether or not I would win the “free coke” token during the skating race for my age group. AND as corny as it sounds, I had this shirt that I wore every time we went skating. It was my absolute favorite shirt. It was tie-dyed with three little hearts on it. Here I am with my Mom and that shirt. Ah… the memories!
We also visited over the holidays, and in addition to visiting my Mom, we would also visit my Dad’s side of the family. It was always nice catching up with the Ashby’s and seeing the family who made me feel at home. Christmas was such a special time with them. My Dad is one of seven kids, and apart of a big Catholic family. My aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents made for some fun and interesting holidays for sure. They were very strong in their faith, and every Christmas they would read the story of Jesus and on Thanksgiving, we would give thanks with prayer for all that we were thankful for. I felt like the family as a whole was such a positive influence on me because it seemed like everyone was happy and successful…they had their ducks in a row so to speak. It often left me with the feeling that I needed to live up to the Ashby name and do something awesome with my life. Particularly after talking to my grandfather Ashby. He was always one to speak words of wisdom into my heart. Since I admired him and my grandmother so much, I really wanted to take and hold on to all of their encouraging words through the years.
Somehow though, it was lost along the way. My home life as an pre-teen was less than encouraging. We ended up moving to Hampstead. This time it was more difficult to meet people and make friends. I was eleven when I started fifth grade at Topsail. I really didn’t meet anyone who I really meshed with. Since the school was so small, and there was only about four or five girls in my class. So, that didn’t help matters much. I was in a bit of an awkward stage and had put on some weight. This along with the fact that I was tall and bigger than most of the kids in my class didn’t do much for my self esteem. Finally, things started to get better school when I met Jessy in sixth grade. It wasn’t until I met her that I had found someone as awkward and different as I was. She was my pal. My soon to be bestie.
Rennie and Dad found a church in Wilmington that they really liked, and we started attending a “spirit filled” charismatic -style non-denominational church called The Rock. I made a few friends there, and I enjoyed the outlet socially. It also helped me further my relationship with God.
At this point, we had started to become accustomed to our new family of five, with my Dad, step-mom Rennie, brother Spence, step-sister Lisa and also our snow shoe Siamese cat Sable (she was the sweetest of cats). I think the move to Hampstead was quite a change for everyone. The home was so much bigger than what we were used to in Wilmington. All of us kids had chores every weekend, and we had to do either dishes or help cook every night. We weren’t a family that ate out in restaurants at all. Once in a blue moon we would on the weekends, but mostly it was home cooked meals around the family dinner table. My Dad worked as a nurse in hospice doing home health care, and Rennie was working 12hr shifts on the weekends.
In the summer of 1993, we found out that my step-mom Rennie was pregnant. With me being the youngest, I was looking forward to having someone younger around. On February 6th, 1994 Christopher Michael Ashby was born. My little brother. He was such a cute baby. Even now with my boys, I still remember so much of what went on when my brother was born. I remember how much he loved Barny. How he wore cloth diapers, and how we loved to sing to him during road trips. He was a fun little guy. He was also really smart. I remember him knowing the ABC song in its entirety before age two. He became quite the smarty pants.
We loved Christopher a lot, but being a pre-teen, and having to babysit every other weekend and having to get him ready for church, bathe him, change diapers, wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. I just wanted to be able to hang out with my friends and be a kid. I didn’t want to be responsible for one. I think it was with this realization, that I started to rebel.