It’s vivid alright. I had recently enrolled in my local community college after spending several months through high school waiting tables and working the counter at Hardee’s. My decision to enroll in the community college was easy. I briefly glanced at one of my coworkers slinging slop in the back and thought to myself “My god, she’s like in her 40’s! I don’t want to be doing this NOW, let alone when I’m old!” That was my thought exactly, I remember it VERY clearly.
In that moment, I literally ran, and when I say that I mean, I simply quit my job and jumped in my 1982 Pontiac T-1000 (a $250 purchase) and…Well, to be more accurate, I didn’t really jump. I shimmied myself into the seat belt that would never unlatch, prayed for the car to start, then headed up to Allegany Community College to see what I had to do to enroll.
At the time I was not privy to the business end of higher education, but they made enrolling very easy, helped me complete the FAFSA, and it was paid for, no problem. If you are wondering why they didn’t require my parents info, I aged out of foster homes after five years in that system, so I was “declared independent” by some authority and also considered poor. I wasn’t worried about that of course, everyone is poor at 18. I just didn’t want to be poor at 40!
In August I began a series of enjoyable classes, just taking the basics, and also found a job at a local convenience store. My day began with my 8am Algebra class, I mention the time of the class because I always had an unexplainable problem with algebra: I like word problems, it’s the equations I had problems with. This was followed by a full day of classes I was good at, and then work at the convenience store from 4pm to midnight. Things were going well until November.
I was renting a small one bedroom apartment on the second floor. Rent was $190 per month which was fitting since my wage was $4.25/hour. A massive snow storm blew in one night in November and piled enough snow on the roof that when I arrived home from work one late night, I found the roof in my bedroom had collapsed and there was snow all over everything, To be more precise, there was snow all over the ONE piece of “furniture” I owned, a futon mattress. At least I didn’t lose much, but it was damn cold. I decided to go to a friend’s house, but unfortunately, I could not get my car out of the parking lot which was packed with icy snow. I chose to view my night in my cold snowy apartment as camping, a reintroduction the survival skills I had learned in the Wild a few years prior. Over the course of the night Bedford, PA received a whopping 4 feet of snow. Sparingly, when morning came, the sun began to shine, and the temperature began to rise, eventually reaching a comfortable 52 degrees and melting all of the accumulated snow so quickly that the entire town flooded. The convenience store where I worked was hit hard and I lost my job.