Today, I have to veer off the dad path, only to set you up for how our relationship changed in my adulthood. Today, we travel to Arizona.
Growing up I was very much a homebody. My every intention was to continue my adult life in Vermont with the people I love- a home base if you will. But when I got the opportunity (at age 24) to go with my boyfriend to Arizona for a year I could not resist. It was perfect. One year with a guarantee we were moving home because it was a school internship for him. He was in culinary school and needed to work in an amazing restaurant for a year as part of his training. (I am sure the school had a more technical term for amazing restaurant.)
I cannot believe the things we did and the risks I found myself taking. First there was quitting my job. That's it, the end with no idea what I would be doing in Arizona. In VT I was waitressing and I really wanted to be teaching so I promised myself I would work hard to get a teaching job. Next, there was telling my mom. She was so supportive and I know how hard it was for her. I am sure there must have been a fear that I would decide to stay after a year was over. Finally, there was packing up our car and starting the drive across the country to AZ. What freedom we felt! There is an amazing joy in having absolutely no obligations. But how long can that last?
Upon arriving in our "rented sight unseen" apartment we got busy preparing it for our year's stay. It was quite beautiful and one of my best memories is putting laundry in at 10:00 at night and then swimming in the complex pool. My second best memory is drinking coffee on the front deck with a big palm tree facing me.
I applied to lots of restaurants but after applying to one teaching position I became a kindergarten teacher. It was amazing how quickly I made friends and this became my home. One night, a bunch of us from the school met in the school parking lot to go out. When we got back one of my new friends and I sat in the parking lot just staring at the night sky and talking. The stars were amazingly bright and the sky was so clear. Something happened inside of me right then. I realized I was strong enough to do anything, to take on the world. I don't think that was a life changing night. On the contrary, I think the whole experience is what changed me, but there is always something special about the moment you realize you have changed and you won't be going back to exactly who you were before.
The time in Arizona was absolutely amazing from beginning to end, but the biggest thing about it is that I was about to come home a changed person and when you go through that change, your relationships change. I was nervous about what was about to happen to the relationships I had left behind. But I had learned that I was very strong and much smarter and able to do for myself than I had ever given myself credit for. That was big. I was becoming a grown-up!