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It's been twenty-five years, and I still remember my first day of high school as if it was yesterday. September 1984. I was so excited that I could hardly sleep the night before. I remember waking up at 6 AM to get dressed. Just a short year ago, I didn't have a desire to get up at all. But on that day, however, my first day of high school, I woke up early with so much zest and zeal for life. Everything had to be perfect. Fresh starched jeans, beautiful red shirt with matching red pumps. My hair was long, black and curly. My size ... a perfect size eight. I remember twirling around in the mirror. No, I wasn't vain. I just wanted to make sure that everything looked right. It was the first day of high school, and I knew it was the start of a new life for me. Little did I know then that I would never see that perfect size eight again until almost twenty-years later.
Weight had never been an issue for me. Maybe you could say that I had good genes. Or maybe it was just sheer luck. Who knows? My dad was in the military, and we were stationed in many different places. We moved around a lot. It seemed like as soon as I gained a new friend, one that I could trust, it was time to move again. It wasthe story of my life. I became used to being the new girl. The girl that everybody judged. The girl that no one knew if she was black or biracial ... I just made sure that I was the new, cool kid. It didn't matter how fair my skin was or how curly my hair was, to be "in", you had to be cool.
It was October, and my birthday was in a few weeks. I think I was more excited because my mom told me that on my birthday I could start wearing a little lip stick and very little eye shadow. All the girls were wearing makeup and I think I was the only one who wasn't. At least, that is what it felt like. I begged her for months and months and finally she agreed! Even if she hadn't agreed, I had my backup plan in place. I had a white friend whom I told that she should give me her eye shadow since her mom was cool, and she could get more. Not to mention, she would get the right kind.
So the next day she brought me all new makeup and said that her mom bought it for me. At that moment, I felt she had the best mom in the world. She was so lucky. Not that my mom wasn't great too but just not about makeup.
It was getting closer to my birthday, and I was counting down the days. I couldn't wait to wear my makeup. I was still in disbelief that my mom had agreed, so I was walking on eggshells around her. Praying she didn't take it back. I had done everything she had asked me to and then some.
I never understood why my sister was never into make up or high-heeled shoes. I wore pumps every day and she would only wear blue jeans and t-shirts. I would tell her all the time that she was not in the cool crowd. My sister Tonya was a grade ahead of me, but we were like night and day. We were so different. At the high school we attended, only the really cool people hung out down stairs and the nerds hung out upstairs. So when I arrived my freshman year, I was told that you don't hang out downstairs unless you are going to eat lunch. I had to hang out down there and everyone thought I was in the tenth grade. No need to change it. Finally, I was in the cool group. Makeup, high-heels. Go Alicia go! Not to mention at school, I was the center of attention with all the boys. They loved themselves some me. Heck, I was in love with me too.
At home, I started having the big head. I had forgotten that school was not home. At home, I was Alicia. Wash the dishes, take out the trash, clean your room Alicia. Not the miss cute Alicia who all the guys worshipped and the girls wanted to hang out with.
One day my mom said look here sweetie you are a beautiful girl but your nasty attitude makes you ugly and you best straighten it. At the time, I couldn't even begin to fathom why my attitude would make me ugly. What was my mom talking about? I was too cute to be ugly-ever!
When all my friends got a job and started buying their own clothes, I had to do the same thing. Yes, I wasn't real original back in those days. I told my mom that I wanted to work so that I could buy my own clothes. My mom agreed, under one condition. I had to keep my grades up. Easy enough, I though.
After some searching, I finally got a job at Taco Bell. I worked every day because I learned that the more hours that I worked, the more money I made. The more money I made, the more clothes and makeup I could buy. The more clothes and makeup I bought, the better I looked and the more I stayed in with the cool kids. I was living the good life. In fact, I was so sharp that some of my teachers had started to ask to borrow my clothes, but my mom didn't play the clothes sharing. In fact, we weren't allowed to spend the night at anyone else's house either. This was true especially if she didn't know their parents. Heck, even if she knew their parents, it was still a tough sell.
Keeping my grades up, working and then I started modeling in different fashion shows. This was truly the highlight of my life. I thoroughly enjoyed modeling. This became my life. I loved all that modeling had to offer. It brought me a sense of selfworth. Modeling validated my beauty. It meant to the world that you were certified pretty. I love d modeling clothes and having people clap. I could hear the whispers of how pretty I was. I was on top of the world.
I would either enter different contest or someone would enter me in a contest. Modeling felt like I was born to do it. Not only did I model but I could sing too. All anyone had to do was put a microphone in my hand I lit up like a Christmas tree.
I would go to the skating rink on the weekends and enter the singing contest and win every time. I won all the school talent shows too. I was on top of the world!
My world got even better when I met this guy named Bobby at the skating rink. He was there singing too. He sounded just like Prince. The boy could saaaang. I told Bobby about my connections at the radio stations and soon Bobby and I became a duo (music only). We started to sing and perform at various events. We opened shows for large events, dinners, clubs, etc. We even had a band that would play for us. I was living my dream. I had always wanted to be a performer. I loved every minute of it. How can I ever forget our signature song, "Secret Lovers" by Atlantic Star. When we performed that song, people were swaying in the audience. Some even accused us of lipsynching because it sounded so authentic. Nope, no lipsynching. We could sing, and we really loved it. I'm in a band and an opportunity to really do some big things in music and fashion. It was 1988 when my dad came home with the news that we were moving to Columbus, Georgia. I couldn't believe it. I had a boyfriend that I loved. We had been together for three years. I didn't want to pack up and move and start over. No way. I was devastated. I cried for days. I told my friends and they cried with me too. I knew that I would never ever marry anyone in the military because it was a life that I was already fed up with.
April 1988- Columbus, GA. We moved and got settled fairly quickly. We moved so much that moving was an art form for my family. In fact, in most cases, our house was completely setup within a week. If you came by you would think we had been living there for years. Pictures on the walls and accessories completely in place.
Shortly after we moved in, my boyfriend caught the bus here to see me. Of course, I thought this was very cool. So, I told my mom she should let me catch the bus to see him for Christmas. Of course, my mom thought this was not cool. In fact, it wasn't even up for discussion. Her answer was a flat "no". But a no wasn't going to stand in the way of me and the boy I loved.
So, when Christmas came I decided would just plan my own trip. Big mistake. I thought that I planned it pretty well-at the time. I calld the bus station to see what time the bus left. Correction. I called to see what time the late bus left. I wanted to plan my escape while they were asleep.
During that time there was a young girl that had moved in-25 years old and with a car. She was cool though. I asked her if she would take me to the bus station at midnight. She agreed.
It was 4 AM when my parents got up and realized that I was not in that bed. They called my boyfriend first. And by the time he got to the bus station to pick me up, his first words were, "your mom is driving down here to whip your A-."
I quickly got on the phone with my mom and after much begging, pleading, and crying, I convinced my mom to let me ride the bus back. She even agreed to let me ride the bus every now and then to see my friends.
I eventually got me a job at Taco Bell in Columbus and things started to change because I was older and more mature and meeting new people and realizing I wanted to date. I had only dated on person all through high school and he was a whole bus ride away! We were seventeen and engaged. What was I thinking? So, I started to get scared and started to date other people.
He's was in college, and I was at Taco Bell, looking cute and thinking I am not going to be tied down. I liked the attention that I received from all the guys. I was still a perfect size 8, and I looked fabulous.
His plan for us was to go into the military, since this was a huge military town. He thought that he could make a lot of money in the military and our lives would be set. We would get married and live a good life.
Next thing I know, he dropped out of college, joined the military, and was on his way to see me! Me ... the same me who was having a ball dating OTHER guys. I wanted to be sure that he was the one and what better way than to date to make sure. The problem is that I was on a date with my new boyfriend when he pulled into our driveway. We had just gone out to eat. I noticed the strange car in the driveway, but I thought it was just one of my dad's military friends. Yes, the tag was out of town, but the tag is always an out of town tag. So, I didn't think anything of it.
In we walk, laughing and talking after coming back from dinner and straight into the face of my fiancé! He was sitting on the couch with one of his friends. I couldn't say anything, so all I could muster was an unintelligible "excuse me" and walk past him into my parents room.
My dad didn't hold back on me. He told me that I was wrong and that I needed to handle it. I walk back into the living room and my fiancé asks that he and I go outside to talk. As soon as we step outside, I start to apologize profusely. I am talking, crying and apologizing all at the same time. In the middle of my tirade, my Columbus boyfriend comes out to tell me that I need to make a choice.
I tried to work it out with my fiancé. We made a go of it, but after a while and with the distance, we did finally break up. I continued to see the Columbus boyfriend. As a result, we began to see each other every day.
I see him for a very long time. We spent a lot of time together. A lot of time. So much time that when I start to complain to my friends about having a headache and feeling tired, they automatically assumed that I was pregnant.
I got the test, took it, and sure enough.... I was pregnant. Everyone was so excited. I was still a little in shock. I am happy but in shock. Mostly, I couldn't stand to look at the father anymore. I wanted to hurt him. I wanted revenge. I asked my friend to pray for me everyday because I needed prayer! I actually wanted to hurt this man. I couldn't believe the my emotions could be on such a rollercoaster ride. How one minute, I could think about him and nothing else and the next I wanted to erase ever knowing him. I once told my friend that I wanted to cut him just to see if he would bleed. She was on the floor laughing. Her exact words were, "with your scared self, you won't even step on a bug let alone cut someone."
Of course, I wouldn't cut anyone and probably wouldn't step on a bug either ... but I did tell him to get out and I will call him when the baby is born. The funny thing was that I wasn't even a full two months and I was already trying to get rid of him. Actually, it wasn't him. He hadn't done much-except get me pregnant. However, the old adage goes, it takes two to tango. So, he wasn't the only one to blame. I was a willing participant. It wasn't him. It was just his scent. I couldn't believe that all the stuff that I've heard women talk about in the beautyshop was true ... morning sickness, emotions on a roller coaster and scents driving you wild. I had all of that and more!
I was literally sick every day. At that time, I swore that I would not have any more kids. I kept praying that if God blessed me with a healthy baby boy, I would never have any more kids. I was going to get my tubes tied.
I was in the bed all day long. It took a while but eventually, I started to feel better. But it took a while to get there.
I had been so sick that I had almost forgotten that Valentines Day was here. My sister called and asked if I would come over and cut her twin boys hair before their grandmother came to pick them up. I am a little slow, not knowing that she was having a party that night. When I walk in, there are five people already there. So I just go straight to the bedroom to get in there and out of her way.
By the time I was done and cleaned the boys up and came out, there was quite a few people out there. I was really in no mood to socialize. So I spoke and told my sister to call me tomorrow.
I was trying to leave when this one guy started coming towards me. I keep walking towards outside. So does he. When we get outside, I told him that I am not interested and to take a good look at my pregnant belly.
He kept walking me to the car and insisted on having my name. He kept talking to me about him and where he was from and why he was at the party in the first place. He had just come in from Korea and some friends invited him to the party. He said someone told him to come so they could hook him up with some chick, as he put it. So why was he out here bothering me, I thought.
He told me that he was supposed to be at the party to meet her but he would rather "meet" me. I reiterated my pregnant belly by pointing to it while stating the words, "I am pregnant and not interested." He asked if I was married or dating someone. I told him that I was single.
Well, I must have been just standing there looking thirsty because the next thing I know we are pulling up at the store and he goes in and gets a 2 liter for us. He said, "I want to make sure if you get thirsty later, you are taken care of." I drove him back to my sister's house, and expressed my appreciation for the 2 liter. I asked his name. He said that everyone called him by his last name. Ash. I said, "Thanks for the drink Ash." He asked for my number and I gave it to him but one condition-that I could have his too.
We started talking every day. He wanted to make sure me and the baby was Ok. Now the question was, what did I want?
Ash and I became the very best of friends. I had never met someone so funny in my life. He could make a dead man laugh. He was so hilarious. We would go out to dinner almost every night. He took me for banana splits, dessert, something different every day. And boy was the weight piling on, but I didn't care. I was happy. Pregnant and happy! I just believed that I could lose it because I was pregnant. He never even cared about how big I was getting. He would always tell me how beautiful I was. I was just so amazed because here is a handsome, young man who is spending all his time with a woman who is carrying the baby of another man! Ash just said that he loved me and my long, black, naturally curly hair and my round, peach shaped face. He loved me for me.
Ash was a part of my life, and I loved it. He was military and would have to go to the field for 30 days at a time. He always called to tell me where he was. Before he headed out to the field, he would call me and tell me to come and get his truck and his credit card. He insisted that I got the things that I needed for the baby. I was still in shock and how freehearted this man was!
All my friends wanted to know if he had a brother. They couldn't believe how Ash had come into my life and just changed it for the better. So, I got dressed and went out to his unit to get his truck. I was feeling like maybe I should not take his credit card but he insisted that he would take care of me and my baby. I was not going to argue with him. He knew what he wanted to do, and at this point, I needed the help.
Excerpted from How I Dropped 142 lbs In A Year & Lost 220 lbs In A Day by Alicia L. Ash Copyright © 2009 by Alicia L. Ash. Excerpted by permission.
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