The Summer of '89

The summer that changed everything

I was walking to school. The high school was about five to seven miles from my home but it was a beautiful spring Colorado morning and it felt like the only logical choice to do with my time. My car was broken down, somewhere unknown in Albuquerque, New Mexico with little hope to ever get it back. My mom was pissed off that I had lied to her about driving to Texas to see my ex (first) girlfriend who I was still trying to win back and who never failed to break my heart every time I made an effort. This time, it was her prom. She asked me to come to hers and despite my car breaking down in the middle of the New Mexico desert, I scraped my remaining money together to get a one-way bus ticket to still make the event. Right after the prom, the inevitable played it’s part and I was once again left heart broken, this time stuck in Plainview, Texas.

I called my father in Oklahoma, asked him to wire money for the bus ticket back to Durango, Colorado. I was grateful that he didn’t lecture me about why I was in Texas, he just sent the money to help me out of my jam and made sure that I was okay. I didn’t say anything about my heart getting ripped out again. I never did. I learned to stop sharing my feelings a while back.

On the ride back I was thinking about how much school I had missed and how things would be at home that I had been caught in my lie to go out of state. I had an absentee record at school that would have made Ferris Bueller take notice and I honestly didn’t care. I wasn’t a rebel and the work wasn’t too hard, I just didn’t have any goals and these things just seemed pointless to me. Everything did.

The sun was barely over the horizon that morning and my sister came to pick me up from the bus station. She gave me a ride home and told me how pissed off mom was. Mom was at work though so I didn’t have to face her just yet. After a long hug she dropped me off at the apartment and I went inside, cleaned up and had a moment of quiet reflection on what to do. I was supposed to be in school and it was just barely after 8am, so I walked.

That walk across the town of Durango was one of the most clear moments of my life. I needed to start putting my energy in a direction that worked for me. I needed a plan. I needed to be independent and I needed to find a way to make that happen. I needed to start focusing on me and not put all of my value and self worth in what someone else thinks of me. I needed to start setting things in motion. After all, It was a beautiful spring Colorado morning and it felt like the only logical choice to do with my life.

The three months following that day, I accomplished more than most people could have imagined possible: I took several tests needed back-to-back to get into college, I broke rules to make up for my deficient academic position and I scammed my way into a University even with my terrible school attendance record and sub-par grades. I got my car fixed at no-cost by Mazda thanks to a talk with the dealership owner in Albuquerque who pulled a few strings to help a kid out. I asked mom to cosign a student loan for me and she wouldn’t… (record scratch noise here to emphasize a stop in momentum).

I was quietly angry about that for years. But the reality was I had given no one a reason to believe in me at that time. She was supportive, always had been. But they had just carried two mortgages for over a year and our family was strapped. She was scared to bet such a great deal on me and honestly, I would have been as well in her position. She wasn’t aware of the things I had in motion except getting into University and she wasn’t really sold on how committed I was. I could have told her, but for with my recent history; they were just words. Even if she has said yes, I would have felt guilty adding to her stress.

That killed the momentum for a few days and everything felt kinda lost. And then I just decided that wasn’t okay.

I drove back to Oklahoma and talked to a local bank where I was going to school and I secured a student loan at a good rate that I could afford, using my car as collateral which put more of my own skin in the game to do well or feel the hurt. This happened exactly how it should have happened. Two weeks later no one was happier to be living in a dorm room and sitting in an 8am Psychology 101 class than I was. I spent the whole hour of class waiting for someone to come in and tell me I didn’t belong there and needed to leave. A few weeks later into the semester, the University caught on to my scam on how I got in. I found a loophole and they didn’t want to admit it existed so we worked out a deal and I stayed, providing I took a couple of non credit classes to make up for my deficiencies.

Yesterday was one of those days full of raw emotion and lack of clarity.
That memory always reminds me I can move a fucking mountain when I want a mountain moved. I just need to know what I want to move it for.

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