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Somehow, even though I’d grown up in Pittsburgh, I was a beach girl. I’d dreamed of living on the beach from the very first time I laid eyes on the ocean. I had wanted to go to college on the beach, but my mother shot those dreams down and had me convinced that it was not something that my family could afford. And so, I went to college 50 miles from home.
I did end up loving my college, but it wasn’t much of a stretch for me. For my first semester, I roomed with a girl that I went to high school with. For every year after that, I always knew my roommate, had my friends. I knew everyone on campus- if not exactly by name, at least to recognize when I saw them. I never really felt alone or felt like I needed to find myself. I always had some sort of support system of friends around- and my family was only about an hour away if I really needed them.
But, then, I graduated from college. And, I was faced with a choice.
I had my teaching degree. But, it was almost impossible to find a teaching position near my hometown. Teachers tended to get those jobs and then stay there until they died. I was starting to get depressed, thinking that I would be living in my parents’ house, subbing and doing something really soul-killing, like working at Walmart…there wasn’t even a Target around to make me feel better about my first job post-grad. Red is so much more flattering on me than navy blue. I look really drab in navy blue.
One Thursday in July, my phone rang…with an offer for a teaching position in some tiny little town in North Carolina that I’d never heard of, yet had somehow applied for in my application frenzy. They wanted me to come interview for a position with them. Oh, and start teacher work days in about two weeks if the interview went well.
I went down there to visit the next day. Flew into the tiniest airport I’ve ever seen- before or since. And it was in the middle of nowhere. Drove an hour to get to the school where I would be teaching if I accepted this job. The interview was a joke- the VP asked me one question and then took me on a tour of the school, trying to sell me on it.
After that, I drove around the area. Ten minutes to the beach. Sat in the sand and looked out at the ocean, wondering what I should do.
Being practical, I went to a local realtor and found a place that I could rent that was 3 miles from the school and was fully furnished.
It was Friday. I had until Monday to call the school and the realtor and tell them my decision. The position and the condo were being held for me until then.
I flew back home that night and tried to figure out what to do.
Could I really move somewhere 600+ miles from home? To a place where I knew absolutely no one? To a place where I had only spent a few hours? This was way out of my comfort zone.
And then I thought, hmmm…to a place where no one knows me. No one has any preconceived ideas of who I am…so I could just be myself.
And I could actually teach, instead of just subbing.
And no one had to wear pantyhose. Laugh at this if you will, but you couldn’t be caught without hose even if you were wearing pants where I did my student teaching. But, the VP who had “interviewed” me had on FLIP FLOPS.
And the ocean was right there.
What an amazing experience it would be.
I did make a last ditch effort to stay in the ‘burgh. Bright and early Monday morning, I called the superintendent of a district I had interviewed with there. It was an amazing interview and he had told me to call him before I accepted any other offers. I explained to him what was happening and he informed me that there was ONE position in his district and that it was down to me and one other girl for the job. That he was rooting for me, but the final decision wouldn’t be made until the school board meeting in August.
But, school would already be in session in NC when that school board meeting would take place. And no one had to vote on me there. How differently things were run.
I wished he could have given me an answer right then. My best friend from college got a job right near the school where I would be teaching and we were hoping to be roommates. It all would have fit so nicely. So easy. Live about a half hour from my family, with my best friend. Know the area, have my friends, easy transition to “being an adult.”
I could probably have predicted accurately the major milestones in my life, had I stayed. I would have followed that predictable of a path.
But, I decided that it was better to take the sure thing rather than wait around for the 50/50 shot. So, I called and accepted the offer for the position in NC and informed the realtor that I did want that condo.
And so, the next week, one day after my 22nd birthday, I packed up my pitiful belongings, followed my highlighted map, and made my way to my new home, new job, new life.
My life definitely didn’t follow a predictable path after that. It was the best decision I ever made.