This is awkward.
I am W. D. Herstun, the W is Wild. I’m sure you will learn why as we proceed. I am blessed to be the owner and curator of the site that is coming together before your eyes. It is an interesting place to join the journey. So. I’ll try to start you somewhere closer to the beginning.
I have never been one to share everything with anyone. I can say that the writers on my site sharing intimate life details and daily stories are brave. It is incredibly hard to be honest in print. Incredibly difficult to be honest in life. And most people cannot even be honest about that.
This photo was taken more than twenty years ago. My mom had just given birth to my best friend, my little brother. We talk everyday now. Not just a text message, my little brother calls me for love and guidance. And he provides unconditional refuge and impenetrable protection in return.
He is my living angel.
The little girl in this photo has big dreams. She wants to be a writer and tell stories like Anne Frank’s or Dave Pelzer’s.
This little girl loves to run wide open until her heart is beating out of her chest in near spasms of irregularly bumpin’ glee causing sweat to drench every inch of her being. Far from lady like to be sure. It gave my mom absolute fits. I’m sure that is why my ponytails are frizzy, because my mom is absolutely anal about appearance.
What a word. I come from a family of strong mothers. My mother has four sisters and my father has three that I grew up with intimately. That is seven aunts in total, for the mathematically challenged, and every single one of them played a role in my life growing up.
That is a lot of praying women. And they were all born to two of the strongest women in my existence. My grandmothers, both of who are still alive, praise Him for their days. One day I’ll share their pictures. But I have to find the perfect ones. I must admit that there is little that fills me with more joy than seeing the way either of my grandmothers’ eyes light up when I show my face back home in South Georgia.
Six years ago I left home. Or I left everything I knew to be home. After nearly flunking out of college and entering a job market flooded with foreclosure and failure in 2007, I made the single best decision I have ever made in my life. I signed my flesh and body over to the care of the United States Army and left my soul for God Himself.
And boy did God take me places. I learned to live on nothing. And figured out that life was still everything. I never needed more than what’s pictured in the Barracks shot above. Learned that I barely even needed that, and still I could survive. And it was the most amazing feeling to be free.
Please do not be confused. The military was not fun by any means. I do not miss the myriad of rules attempting to govern my thought processes and the leadership attempting to regulate everything from weight, to my hair, to my facial expressions.
But within that structure was liberation. The military took me places that I could hardly have imagined and introduced me to people that I could only dream of as characters in books. I met orphans, the children of politicians, the people born to be warriors, and the ones forced to. I experienced poverty in more languages than I can count — And I learned that it usually looks a lot better when the language spoken is English.
I learned masonry, weapons safety, vehicle recovery, operating heavy machinery, and basic electrical wiring. The best leaders in the military taught me to use my hands the way my favorite college professor taught me to use my mind. And if you know anything about me, I am always ready to learn.
I was dreadfully homesick for a long time. I have never been a person that natrually felt I fit anywhere. Well, I fit in the military. Turns out that it is full of diversity in the best of ways. — An Army of black sheep so to speak.
I found friends that loved the rough and tumble in me, then created spaces for the intellect to be comfortable. I met men and women who had never conversed with a black person. Then the Army made us eat, sleep, shit, and train together.
They became my family.
When I was in training, I stood next to the quietest, skinniest guy in our whole unit. Pretty soon we became friends because I was determined to get him to talk to me. I would rip the velcro from his uniform and switch it around. Or I would steal things from his pockets secretly and return them later. He would flash the brightest smile I had ever seen.
When he started to fall behind in our classes, we would stay after and study together. He was always drawing me things, giving me candy, or simply walking silently near my energy.
At the time, I dated his much taller and more ambitious roommate, along with a slew of whoever the hell else I wanted to. I was single. His roommate and I would debate about politics and make plans for the future. His roommate could see something he valued — A woman going somewhere with a southern upbringing to boot.
The super scrawny guy though. The quiet one, he could see me. Even when I couldn’t see him.
So once again, God intervened and sent us both back to where we came from. Two of three soldiers to be stationed at an installation in Georgia. In June of 2013, I went to pick the quiet, scrawny guy up from his house to drive us both to our new Army base.
In October, I married him. We invited God. And stood before Him and each other alone. We didn’t tell anyone else. My husband is more introverted than me. Always the quiet guy, but he damn sure wasn’t scrawny anymore.
My husband grew into a man before my eyes. And then he made me feel like more of a woman than I have my entire life. — He gave me our daughter. And she is the reason… She is the reason that we MUST grow. This is my family.