J. A. Busfield was born on February 11, 1981 in New York to a young immigrant couple. Her dad was a recent arrival from the Dominican Republic; and her mom, a seasoned American by the time they met and wooed, was born in Colombia. They argued over Spanish names throughout the pregnancy, both favoring completely different options. Finally, they found common ground with an American name, and the baby girl was called Jennifer Ann.
Jennifer was raised mostly by her mom for the first 10 years of life (there was also an assorted number of family members and babysitters to lend a helping hand). Moves to and from different houses, different states, even different countries were typical, so the young girl learned to enjoy as much as she could in the moment without holding on too tightly. Enjoyment was just a facet of the young girl’s positive outlook on life. She very often engaged in social situations exuding charm and winning over complete strangers. Her mom likes to tell tale of her periodic feat as a 3 year old, mesmerizing everyone on the neighborhood bus when they still lived in New York.
Life changed for Jennifer when her mother moved to North Carolina searching for a clean slate and a “good place to raise a kid.” Things were different, very different; and there was a lot of learning to do. Shortly after the move south, her mom remarried; another immigrant, this time a German. Jennifer swears up-and-down that his German influence of self-discipline and responsibility helped tame her wild, reckless Latina passion. There were many battles throughout her adolescent and teen years as they both, as very strong willed individuals, carved out boundaries and statements of force.
It was hard. She felt misunderstood; sometimes, even caged from who she really wanted to be. She started writing as a means to “vent” her enraged teenage passion. Often, her writing served as a sponge for all the bleak and ugly in her life; so that, in her personality, she could remain cheerful and enthusiastic. In the vein of Dorian Gray, there was an ominous darkness that oozed from the pages of her journals.
But, as is customary, high school gave way to college; and she very much looked forward to the opportunity to spread her wings and test new flight patterns. And her writing during this time reflected a sense of anticipation and discovery. Jennifer chose to clear her own path for college. Her parents laid out a handful of approved options – none of which suited the determined high school Senior. She chose her university with a fierce spirit of “I can do this!” – which was an important (and necessary) element that carried her through her college career: she was responsible for paying her way completely and fed off that spirit’s source to make sure tuition, books, living expenses, etc…were paid. College was an assortment of real-life issues mad-barking in her face; and she dealt first-hand with life’s gray areas: lovers leaving, friends dying, grades failing, work sucking.
Jennifer’s early 20’s were spent falling in love and learning to love the man that would ultimately become her husband. Her journals are filled with love poems and hopeful monologues during the time of their courtship. She told him: “I’ll take your name, but I need to keep a little of my ethnicity, please!” So, she took her maiden name as her middle name; and added his family’s name at the end. The result was: Jennifer Alsina Busfield. They enjoyed each other so much that a baby followed their wedding day much sooner than expected.
The event would be the catalyst to identify serious issues within their relationship. Jennifer spent the term of her pregnancy teaching 8th grade Language Arts; and praying that her hormonal teaching style wouldn’t negatively affect her students. She enjoyed working with their young minds and exposing them to all kinds of literature. She learned that she didn’t much enjoy grading heaps of papers. She realized a new fact about herself: she was a creative writer at heart, not an editor.
The baby boy was born healthy and strong, but it was soon noticed that he didn’t act as other children his age. He was diagnosed with high-functioning moderate Autism just before his third birthday. Jennifer struggled with adjusting to the role of Advocate for her child; in truth, she was still trying to get the hang of being a good mother. But with no other choice and having had fallen madly in love with this little human’s essence, she studied and learned as much as possible to be a good influence in her son’s life.
The marriage didn’t survive. There were too many tugs and pulls; not enough active listening and adjusting. Jennifer often says that her life paused somewhere along the way in her mid-20’s; and there wasn’t much more than survival as a daily goal. Writing continued to be an important part of her life, as she expressed raw emotions through journal entries and poems.
In 2008, Jennifer snapped; and decided that serious changes needed to be made in order to go from “surviving” to a mentality of “thriving.” She tackled her life as she would any project, organizing goals and marking tasks as they were completed.
That decision, to be consistently engaged in choosing options that will enhance her life, has opened up a myriad of lovely adventures, professional and personal; and she says that somehow it feels that there’s been more life in her life, since then.