Is there a period in your own personal life that you think of as the good old days? Tell us a story about those innocent and/or exciting times (or lack thereof).
I’ll always think of 26 as the best year of my life. At the age of 19 I dropped out of Purdue University and went to Florida where I worked in a factory and then as a waitress in greasy slimy places where I served both humans and cockroaches. I tried to commit suicide a couple of times.
Finally reaching bottom, I crawled back to my parents’ house. After working as a transcriptionist and then secretary, I realized I needed to go back to college and get a degree in order to get a job where it was acceptable to use my brain.
By 26 I had graduated with a degree in computer science. I had interned at a local high tech company, done very well, and was subsequently offered a full-time job. I loved my job, although it was long tedious hours and demanding. I loved the people I worked with.
I started running 10K’s every weekend. I trained seriously for them. I bought myself a $600 bicycle and did long bicycle rides. I did a 40 mile ride up in the mountains once, solo. It was a tough ride that took all of the endurance skills I had to finish it.
I took scuba diving lessons and went diving regularly with buddies I met at local dive shops. I even won a thanksgiving turkey on a turkey hunt.
Every once in a while I’d pack my car up and go to Joshua Tree campgrounds and spend a weekend in solitude, cooking stew in a camp stove and hiking the desert. The night sky in the desert is indescribably mystical and full of shooting stars, and the Milky Way streams across the sky. I would sometimes drag my sleeping bag out of the tent and sleep directly under the stars, the amazement of the universe filling my mind with wonder.
Guys liked my independence and self confidence and I had a handful of really nice friends and a healthy dating life.
Twenty-six will always be the age that I was finally able to free a part of myself that had been hidden for all of my childhood. I stepped out of 26 as a woman, free, strong, independent, and able to do anything I put my mind to. My potential was limitless and life would be eternal. I knew nothing about the loss and grief that would come later in my life.