No, this isn't a refugee from my food blog...this week's RevGalBlogPals' Friday Five challenges us to list five forks in our road of life, and how our choosing one way over the other changed our lives.
1. My college education was not a given; even though I was an excellent student, I had to argue my way into higher education over the objections of my father -- who himself was involuntarily "dropped out" of school after the 8th grade by my grandfather, who thought that education made boys effeminate, rebellious and lazy, and was a complete waste of time for girls. Once that battle was over, I had a choice between attending the regional state university -- 45 minutes from home, fairly inexpensive; offered me a big scholarship -- and attending Michigan State University, which while also actively wooing me was more expensive to attend. My parents, of course, wanted me to go to the smaller, closer school. I resisted; I'd visited the MSU campus and had fallen in love with its bigness and diversity, and frankly I wanted to be farther from home. Once again I won the argument. And I think that victory was one of the very seminal experiences in growing me into the person I am today.
2. After getting laid off from my first "grownup" job, as an ad rep for a small-town newspaper, I found myself broke, depressed and back at home. The country was in a recession, and there weren't that many jobs of any kind, let alone jobs for a liberal-arts major with exactly one year of serious fulltime job experience. I sent resume after resume; trudged dutifully to the unemployment office and to whatever interviews I could wrangle on my own. After many months, I happened to see an ad in the newspaper for a legal proofreader in Cadillac. It paid just barely above what was minimum wage in those days, and employees had to buy into the company health insurance themselves. But there was something about the company that sounded promising; that it might pay to start at the bottom and work up. So I applied...and was run through a gauntlet of testing and interviews; all for this chump-change entry-level job. I told the Big Bosses, at my last interview, that I was willing to move to Cadillac and live in a state of financial deficit until I could prove my worth as a long-term employee. I was hired. And that employment experience -- which, to be truthful, had its ups and downs -- really taught me how to work in the professional, white-collar world, both in terms of practical and people skills. I ended my employment there a manager, leaving on my own terms, and felt good about my time there.
3. I think coming out to myself was a major fork in the road. My feelings at the time were a strange mixture of joy and terror; joy at finally being honest with myself and God, and terror over what that would mean for my life from that point on; what to do next. What I actually did next was keep it to myself, for many years, so as not to upset my parents. In retrospect, I have no regrets; I did what I had to do at the time.
4. After my mother died and I was truly free to pursue my own life, I made a fork-in-the-road decision to try and network with other lesbians in my area. My initial forays into the world of online networking were so disappointing and depressing that at one point I decided, "Well, maybe I'll wind up being a kind of freelance monastic." Then I accepted an invitation from a couple of people I'd met online to meet with them and their new friend at a tavern not too far from my home on Mother's Day afternoon; a few of them who had adult children living elsewhere were feeling blue and wanted company. When the appointed time came to drive to said tavern, I went outside to find that one of my tires had gone flat as a pancake; here I was, 10 miles away from actual connection with other real women in my part of the world, and I couldn't go anywhere. (Contrary to popular belief, not everyone who plays on our team can change a flat.) This is how I met Fellow Traveler; I was desperate for a ride, so I called the individual who had organized the get-together and got FT's number. I then called her -- someone I knew only from a Yahoo profile; she had made it quite clear there that she was only interested in platonic, coffeeklatsch/travel pals, which was very okay with me. To my surprise, she said she'd come and give me a lift to the get-together, even though she was still recovering from a major surgery; she just needed to know where I lived. So, cell phones in hand, I navigated her the 10 miles from her house to mine. We went to the tavern; I ordered Buffalo wings, bleu cheese dressing and iced tea; so did she; we found the other people there alternately crude and boring; we decided we might like to get together again, without the others, maybe for dinner or a drive. And thus began our partnership -- over chicken wings.
5. I just hit another fork in the road: Stay in a job that was making me sick and sad, or take a big leap of faith and take a year off to learn some new skills, do more lay ministry, take a more active role in the household and otherwise come back to myself, as the saying goes? You know which road I've just set out upon.