Wednesday, June 20, 2012

RTW: The Summer after Graduation

This is my first Road Trip Wednesday put on my YA Highway! They post a question that you can answer on your blog, and go check out what other people have to say. Cool, right?

This week's question is:

How did you spend/how will you spend the summer after graduation?

I recently read The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour and Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard that involves the summer between graduation and college, and so I thought about my more than I previously have have in the past. Here is my story. 

I graduated from high school in the year 2000. The year before, at age seventeen, I decided to join the North Dakota National Guard. My eldest brother joined fourteen years earlier and encouraged me that it was a good way to pay for college, and to have a part time job during college since that is what he did.

I admit, I was scared about the future. I lived in a small town all my life (population 15) and I was the youngest in my family. I had a lot of wisdom coming down the lines about how I should plan my future. I decided I would go get my military training, and apply to college when I returned. My parents invited me to live at their lake house and attend the nearby college for computer administration. I needed a way to support my writing, or that is what I told myself.

I went to leave for boot camp, and they told me that I needed to lose five pounds. I had never been told before that day that I needed to lose weight, and also, they needed my current records on my recently diagnosed hypothyroid (underactive thyroid). I went home devastated and confused, and after two days, I knew that I couldn't go back. I knew with my thyroid, it would need to be regulated or my whole metabolism would go crazy. Even now, if I miss one pill, my whole mood changes and brain goes foggy.

I went to my parents and brother #1 (who lived practically next door) and told them that I couldn't go through with it. I wanted out due to medical reasons (since I was diagnosed by the military and didn't know previously). It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. My mother and brother were angry at me for breaking my contract. I now look back and I think my dad was actually relieved.

I called my unit and explained it to them, and the next step came that I would go to college. I ordered catalogs before and went through them all. I decided to read about the classes that would interest me the most and circle them. When I went through the next time, it was obvious that computers wasn't what caught my interest. It was writing and books, my dearest passions.

I applied for colleges while working in the house clean as I did in years past, painted everything my dad told me too (my old playhouse, the deck, the garage), and helped my mother in the garden. I would drive into town to see my best friend, who was two years younger than me, with no idea what my future held.

I received two letters in late July that I was accepted into a technical college, and a four year university in Moorhead, MN, the sister city of Fargo, ND. I couldn't start the four year university since I was accepted for the spring term, so I went to the technical college for the fall.

I moved to Fargo, started college, and worked at K-Mart for the first two years. The first day of college I met one of my best friends, and at K-Mart I met the love of my life. He works as a programmer now so I can stay at home and write. And you know what else? This small town girl now lives in San Diego, CA and has traveled all over from NYC, London, Tokyo, and Paris. Not too bad, right?

Strange how the worst decision I ever made took me on the path to make the best, and how one summer can change your whole life.



  1. My journey was quite different but similar in the crucial way: sometimes the best things come out of things not going the way you planned!

    Great story, thank you for sharing, and welcome to RTW!

  2. Welcome to RTW, Natasha! That's a cool story. My college plans didn't work out quite as I'd hoped, either, but everything turned out so much better than I ever could have imagined. The university I ended up at was where I met my wife, and we relocated to the US, and I found work, started a family, and that was 20+ years ago. :D

  3. I think everyone ends up in a different place than they think they will, and oddly, it all ends up right :)

  4. Teens reading these stories are in for an eyeful. As they say, don't sweat the small stuff and follow your heart. There are bound to be bumps in the road, but when you look behind you, it will look smoother in hindsight.


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