I spent the rest of the summer moping about and experiencing my own teenage existential crisis. I didn’t really know who I was or where I wanted to go in life. All I really knew was that I liked to spend hours reading in my room. When I was enveloped in another world, right there with Harry when Dumbledore died, or exploring Middle Earth, then everything just felt at peace. But when I had to experience these things for myself…life felt awkward. For three days I went as an extra for a movie that just came out this year: Unitards .
My next job basically fell into my lap. I had applied to a bunch of places before, but I guess the local dry cleaners had kept my application on hand and called me in two months later. Going into the shop felt like a sauna, but it was the end of the summer, so the feeling didn’t last long.
Then a month after I got my next real job, I went to Vegas with a friend.
I’ve never been able to travel much and to this day that trip to Vegas remains at the top of places I have been. Most of my savings went towards that trip (I’m glad I spent them, as I got to go on the last experience at the Star Trek Hilton that would ever be available. They closed down that very same year). But the company was atrocious for reasons I would rather not go into.
I made a lot of stupid mistakes that year, and what teenager doesn’t? But my actual job wasn’t that bad. I had to sort orders before and after they were cleaned, and helped customers pick up and drop off clothes. That was basically it: relatively little stress, nice customers. Working at the dry cleaners is the perfect high school job.
Sorting the pressed button down shirts as the ladies worked at the ironing station gave me the mental freedom to visit a lot of my choices in my head. As the weather got colder and the button down shirts were switched out for sweaters, I realized that if I truly wanted to be happy in life, I needed to change my direction.
Sadly, I ended up quitting the next summer because the manager gave her daughter the hours I asked for. Her daughter came in late and constantly tried to pawn her hours off on the rest of us.
But this time I made sure I had a back-up plan before I left. A lot of the people I had worked with at the recreation center before were friends with my mom and told her that they wanted me to come back to work. I decided that I would, but not as a lifeguard. Over the summer and for part of the school year I taught little kids how to float on their tummies and swimming games that increased their lung strength.
My dad had also made a delicious batch of syrup in March and by the summer decided to try and turn a profit by selling that syrup to the public. I occasionally helped out here and there, but after a while the constant declines and the hot hours as well as the struggles of high school and my sick mom made it difficult to continue pursuing the business. My hours as a swimming teacher were sparse and tiring (you try chasing five kids all by yourself for an hour in the water. And the chlorine never washed out of your suit.)
I spent most of my senior year of high school figuring myself out with the help of my then boyfriend Jacob. During my teenage years, I had been through a lot of medical and psychological stress that I was still trying to sort through. I also wrote a lot that year, mostly soppy poems about my feelings that didn’t really turn into much, but it helped me get some of the worthless words out.
About two months before I graduated, I got a job at Great Mountain West Supply, taking t shirts hot off the press and folding them into stacks. The heat at that job, possibly combined with other factors, sent me into a mini stroke or some sort of shock. I went to Jacob’s house right after work one day and couldn’t feel my right side. I went to the hospital and promptly quit that job.
After I graduated, I ended up getting a temporary position at Nordstrom’s. It invoked in me some of the more feminine sides and I thought I wanted to pursue those feminine wiles. I came back to it during the Christmas break and ended up having to quit because of medical problems resurfacing (seeing a theme here?) Luckily, I have not been to the hospital since then, which I thank God for frequently.
When I went to college, I managed to land a work study position. I worked at the college library, which seemed perfect for an English Major, right? Well, turns out English wasn’t quite my style. My love of writing came from the stories I read when the rest of the world felt too painful to live in. English was more concerned with the validity of those stories, the perfection of the writing, and criticizing anything they didn’t like (which just so happened to be most of what I had read growing up.) That combined with the lack-a-daisy work attitude at my work study position left me once again feeling out of place. After spending the summer trying to find something to do on the internet and listening to the air conditioning hum, I quit before I went mad from wanderlust and the stress of my upcoming wedding.
Luckily for me, my father in law was looking out for me. Almost the next month, I started working as an English as a Second Language tutor. I still have this job, and love working with students one on one. Students from other countries come here because they want to learn the language and they want to experience the culture of America. One of the students I tutor comes for the entire time and asks questions about why we speak or dress a certain way.
The train always drives by near one of the university stops and hums as it rounds the corner, but to me it is another sound of belonging. Here I am appreciated and can pursue what I love.
To be continued in tomorrow’s post