October 10, 2010 § Leave a comment
What do you do when you are young and feel alone in the world? I went home from school one day, and I stayed home. While Tom Jones’ isolation was forced upon him by TB, at the age of twelve, my isolation was by choice and withdrawal, at the age of sixteen. How do you tell your parents you don’t want to live? After crying day after day, week after week, month after month, I finally told my parents that I could not, would not go to school for one more day. It was just too painful. I remember my mother in tears, made me, in tears, go outside the next morning and tell my best friend and her mother, who were my regular ride to hell, I mean high school, that I wasn’t going to school that day.
It took my friends a while to notice that I wasn’t going back to school. How could I tell all of my normal friends that I was so not normal that I thought about driving off a cliff? How do you tell the belle of the ball, the brainy secretary of the student body, and the girls-at-lunch that I can’t see them any more because I am going to take my little self – ironically, I felt so small – and just disappear?
By the time he was sixteen, Tom Jones, was more than making up for his two years in isolation — he married his childhood sweetheart and a month or so later, became a father. Living his adolescent life by being sexually active, he took the fast train to adulthood. I have always been fascinated that he has never talked about having a wife and child at such a young age as a burden. In fact, in many articles, he has spoken of it as having made him “feel like a man.”
At sixteen, I certainly did not feel like a woman. I didn’t even feel human. I felt like a freak because people would stare at me or make comments related to my height and/or skinniness. I felt alienated because the bullies always managed to get away with teasing, even when my mother went to the school to talk to my counselor about it. I felt alienated because my friends didn’t…or couldn’t… really understand the heart-pounding depth of pain from teasing. They were just trying to survive their own teen years. And I had never fully revealed to anyone but my mother how anxious I was about life in general, so no one really understood how my own young fears were fueled by the torture of teasing. I just wanted to disappear.
And that’s what I did. I disappeared. I stayed home. It was 1969 and there was Tom Jones and his voice to comfort me. I took an adolescent girl’s trip to Tom Jonesville, and didn’t leave that part fantasy, part reality world until I… well, you’ll have to take the journey with me to see how my coming of age story turns out and the many ways… the singer saved me.
Note: Once I entered the world of Tom Jones and his legions of fans, I received many photographs taken by many fans throughout the United States via “snail mail,” back in the old days when there were no PCs and Internet. Most of these photos are not labeled with the name of the photographer. If you see your photo of Tom Jones and can remind me how/where/when this photo was taken and would like a credit, please feel free to contact me at singersavedme.com.