Tim S - College Husband

I was accepted at MIT, RPI and WPI, but my parents only agreed to pay for the WPI tuition. Off I went. When I began college, I was immediately sucked into the fun world of computers there. I had always grown up with computers, and now I had entire rooms full of them to use! I immediately began coding, chatting, and using the computer system to do all sorts of things. The lab at WPI was called WACCC and some guys joked that as they walked down the rows of terminals at WACCC, every person there was talking to "ewaller" (i.e. Elizabeth Waller, me). I had a blast, but I didn't do well attending my classes. The classes seemed very elementary and boring to me. I was discovering really cool things to do on the computer systems on my own time.

There were two main groups of people I hung out with. One was the "wedge rats" - the laid-back computer guys in a wedge-shaped building that connected two larger buildings. We would hang out and talk about sci-fi topics, play strategy games and so on. One of the Wedge Rats was Nick B, who was just about as Robin Hood as you could get. Very smart, very generous, very caring. I became Maid Marion.

The other group I hung out with was the WPI SFS - Science Fiction Society. This had mostly more 'serious' types in it included Andrew B and Tim S, both ROTC types.

I became casually involved with all three guys, until there was a 'auction for charity' event where people were auctioned off for a day's service. I was the first person up and a bidding war erupted for me between Nick / Wedge Rats and Tim&Andrew. In the end Tim won and I got the highest price for the day. Tim apparently told Nick to back off, and soon I was living with Tim. My sister and I got into a huge fight with my mom over the Christmas holiday and we both moved out - my sister to my dad's house, and me to Tim's apartment full time. Because of the financial aid issues, Tim and I got married when I was 18-and-a-month, on St. Patrick's Day 1987. But the aid wasn't enough, and my grades reflected my lack of interest in the classes. I ended up dropping out after the first year of WPI.

Even without a degree I was very good with computers, and was promptly hired at a biotech company. Tim finished off his degree, and in 1989 we had our only child, James. We moved every year or two following Tim's jobs. I often had very long commutes to the job I kept - but I loved my job and my pay was always around equal to Tim's even without the degree, something I was very proud of. Poor James was moved from day care to day care as we moved, but he was always the happiest little child, very accepting of whatever the current situation was.

Tim wanted 5 kids, and in essence wanted me to stay home with them. But on the other hand Tim would always go out for the night to the local pub, and didn't interact with James much. I loved James dearly but didn't think this was a great family environment in which to have even more kids. We were moving yearly, both working, and just not spending much time together. Still, I kept plugging along. I really wanted to have our family "work". My own parents had divorced when I was six and I didn't want to end up like that.

I thought maybe it was our constant moving that made us feel so unsettled. So we looked around and bought a house in Worcester. It wasn't in the best neighborhood, but it was our. Still, Tim kept going out at night and I kept feeling lonely, sitting in the house alone each evening while James slept. In fact, one evening while Tim was out, a group of hoodlums tried to kick in the cellar door to rob us. Tim and I were both into target shooting, so I ran for the handgun and called out that I was armed. The hoodlums ran off, and I just sat there, watching, until Tim got home.

On New Year's Eve, 1992, we put James to bed and came down to the couch. Tim turned to me and said that maybe we should take a break. It was as if the world had suddenly become very heavy. It suddenly seemed that after so many years of trying, and thinking "it'll be worth it in the long run", that it had all been for nothing.

Tim said, "Isn't there anything you want to say?"
All I could reply was, "I'm just so tired."

It was a fairly friendly break, as such things go. He moved out and to his credit still wanted to see James Tuesday, Thursday and every other weekend - far more than most fathers would have seen their kids.

It became harder for me to maintain the house and long distance work schedule on my own; my financial stress mounted. I was close to bankruptcy but convinced I would not go that route. At the time, it could literally cost $800/mo or more to be on the internet even 1/4th the hours I am on routinely in modern times. Going online - dialup - could cost more than $1/hr plus long distance charges.

In addition, with my long work hours, I barely got back to the daycare each evening when they were closing up. If there was an emergency, I was far away. I worried about not caring well enough for James. During all of this, I fell in love with someone who moved to St. Louis. A year later Tim was with his new partner, a woman with education in childhood care, who could stay at home full time. A solution presented itself. Tim and I arranged for him to move in and take over the responsibilities of the house, in a rent-to-own situation, and to take primary custody of James. I would head out to St Louis so I could get my finances all in order, sharing much cheaper living expenses with my boyfriend.

Tim and I still saw each other as we swapped off James. In the end it was a relationship where we were both intelligent people with very common interests - but the things we wanted in life were not compatible. We both wanted to run our own company, we both loved computers - but Tim also wanted a woman to stay home and raise kids for him. Tim is now with a stay-at-home mom who has given him 3 more kids. He has the large family he always wanted, and the wife willing to stay home and care for it.

And then, there's Nick. On one hand Nick B has always been that 'elusive dream guy' - Nick ended up dating and marrying a woman who looks almost *exactly* like me. So he must have had fond memories of me, too. But on the other hand, Nick was very soft-spoken, not very willing to stand up for things he believed in (including me). That very-low-key personality would not really have worked well long term with my own personality. It is probably why I ended up with Tim rather than Nick. I wanted someone who would take action when he saw something that needed doing.

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