By Patrice Langford
After I graduated from high school I decided that I needed a break from school for a few months, a break that went beyond the summer. I had not applied to any universities. I knew that it was not in the cards for me. I knew that I was better suited for vocational education or a junior college. My older brother had gone to Sacramento Job Corps and I thought that that was probably my best route so I took it also.
Job Corps are residential/non-residential vocational training facilities. They are all over the nation, including Hawaii! At Job Corps they offer students the resources and ability to finish high school while learning a trade at the same time.
Job Corps is where I met my ex-husband, my children’s biological father, as well as my current husband, Joe. When you go into Job Corps on your first day, you do not go in alone. There is always a group of other students ranging in ages 16-25, that are going in on the same day. This is called your “Input Group,” and the people in your group are called your “Input brothers and sisters.” For the first 6 weeks of being at Job Corps you have all of your introduction classes with your input group. My current husband was in my input group and we met on our first day there. We were instantly friends and spent a lot of our class time near each other.
I met my now ex husband in the second week being there. We will call him “Bob.” He was good looking and a “bad boy.” He had been at job corps for a while before I got there so he was almost finished and was getting ready to graduate. He graduated and went to live with my mother and brother in Sonoma County while I stayed to finish my trade, but we talked on the phone almost every day. We had decided to get married, but we were going to wait until I was finished with school.
However, during a phone conversation he told me that he didn’t want to wait any longer for us to get married. One month later, we were married and a week after the wedding I found out that I was pregnant with my first son. I finished Job Corps while pregnant and went back to my hometown. I gave birth in September of 2007 and a little less than two years later, I gave birth to our middle son in April of 2009.
Things had not been going well in my marriage and I decided to file for divorce when Bob put his finger in my face while yelling at me for waking him up to help me with the boys who were 20 months and 2 months old. After I filed for divorce I gave Bob a few more chances to be the person he needed to be for our children. This did not happen and he got addicted to heroin. I decided that it was time to finalize the divorce and I became single again in April of 2010.
I stayed single for about two years after the divorce until I chose to give the whole online dating thing a try. I told myself that if I was going to find a successful partner, I was going to have to change the type of men that I was attracted to. So while on the dating website I met this very nice man, who we will call “John,” who also happened to be a single parent to two kids. We hit it off almost instantly and fell in love quickly. This relationship lasted a year and was filled with blended family outings.
Unfortunately, John’s ex-wife and his children made the relationship very difficult – they left racial slurs on our voicemail and text messages every day. His ex-wife even referred to me as “the Ni****” and their children started referring to me as this name also. This relationship ran its course and John ultimately ended up dumping me via text message — way to have respect for someone. I was heartbroken because we were in the process of purchasing a house together. I stayed single for a while after this breakup until one day I received a Facebook game request from Joe and I immediately messaged him hoping that he would respond, and he did!
We started out talking about our fun times hanging out at Job Corps. We talked about our lives and what we had been up to. He was living with his mother 3 hours away from me. He revealed to me that he had been in love with me at Job Corps and was too shy to tell me. After much talking, we realized that we did not want to be separated from each other any longer so we made a plan for him to come and visit me and my kids. When he finally got to my house, it was as if we had seen each other every day for the last 8 years. After that we knew that we didn’t want anyone else so he moved in with us.
He became a father to our children, and such a good father that I can’t imagine having anyone else as their father. He laughs, plays, and loves them every day. Sunday, August 14, 2016, was our 1-year wedding anniversary. It reminded me that we’ve had a crazy few years and the first year of our marriage has been no different – homelessness, looking for our own place, and attacks against my family and kids.
But we made it. We made it with love.