10 Years Later

I recently received an email about my 10 year college reunion. Ten years. A decade! What in the holy hell? I can’t have graduated with my undergrad that long ago.

It’s funny how so much changes in a decade. From graduating with all the wild, naive ambition of a 22 year old to being 32 with 1 child and another on the way. Jobs change. Friendships change. Dreams change.

I have often heard that your high school friendships aren’t the ones that last forever, your college friendships do. Yes and no. I don’t really keep up with many people from high school, aside from the occasional Facebook exchange, but the same goes for college. Don’t get me wrong I have a select few friendships that I have no doubt will endure time and distance but for the most part I have a very small circle. College was a great time, I enjoyed it immensely but after graduation it just seemed that chapter of my life had come to an end. A little bit sad but not shocking, it just seems to be the kind of person I am. Most of the friends I had made all went off in different directions and over time we lost touch. It’s life, it happens. However, reflecting on the fact that an entire ten years have passed has inspired me to create something. My freshman year began in August 2005 so I was part of the first generation of Facebook users, back when you had to be a college student to access and use the site. I remember when they added photos, tagging and albums to the site and lucky for me. If it weren’t for all the great moments commemorated via Facebook photos I’d deactivate my page immediately. I’m planning on saving all the photos that I can and making a scrapbook of sorts out of it, complete with all the stories I can remember to go along with the photos. I’m sure there will come a time in my life that I can’t remember who people were, what we were doing and what made the moments so special and I think making a book (or books) from the photos has the potential to bring smiles for years to come.

So what’s happened in the last ten years? So very much. My junior year I had an in-park internship at Busch Gardens Williamsburg that was by far the most exhilarating, memorable and exhausting summer of my life. Busch Gardens has an international exchange program and I worked with other students my age from 19 different countries, started to learn a new language and built some really impactful relationships. Honestly, I think I learned more in that one summer than I had in all my years of school combined. When that summer ended I had a really difficult time letting it all go and even suffered from anxiety attacks. That summer internship led to me getting a job with their PR department and thus began my first post-college job. The position was fairly short lived (April 2009-January 2010) – at the time if you were 22 or older and not a student you could not be claimed on your parents health insurance so I was a recent college grad, in an apartment making $8.50 an hour with no benefits and barely scraping by so in January 2010 I began a job with Enterprise Rent-A-Car in their management training program. The job came with full benefits, $32,000 a year and was a great resume-builder. I didn’t love the job, in fact it was exhausting and really kind of made me hate people … but it made paying my bills a lot easier. By May 2010 my boyfriend (now husband) graduated from the same alma mater and started a job with Enterprise as well. By July we had gotten our first apartment together and I took a lateral promotion to Enterprise Car Sales, a position that solidified the fact that I am not meant for sales. I can talk to people until I’m blue in the face if there’s no agenda, but put closing a sale into the mix and I crumble. Fast forward to February 2011 and I had been completely defeated by being in car sales, my confidence was obliterated and so back to rental I went. In May 2011 Rory and I got engaged and he had a job lined up back near his hometown of Warrenton, Virginia and I put in for a transfer with Enterprise.

The big move happened in July 2011, the first time I had ever lived outside the 757 area code; away from the coast and nearer to the mountains. My husband and I are different in many ways, specifically our relationships. Unlike me, he has maintained very close friendships with many of his high school classmates and moving to Warrenton was great in that aspect, we had people there, we didn’t have to start from scratch. I was working for a new Enterprise branch and he was working for a (now former) family friend. June 2012 this (former) family friend unceremoniously fired Rory two weeks before our wedding, also forcing our what was to be housing situation beginning in July to fall through; so after we got married we had to move in with his parents. Our lease was ending, we’d already told the owners we weren’t going to renew and couldn’t find anything on such short notice. It didn’t take him long to find a new job and by September I had found a job with a software company making the most I’d made or been offered at that point and we continued to rent his parents basement.

About a year later, around June 2013 having grown restless and unfulfilled with my mindless, droning desk job I decided I wanted to take the ASVAB and join the Coast Guard. My life would have the discipline and rigor I felt I needed, good benefits, always live on the water and I could be “retired” before 50 and pursue whatever I wanted for my remaining working years. Win, win, win, win, win. I scored high enough on the ASVAB to attend any A-school of my choosing and everything was looking promising. Not long after, Rory was offered an incredible position with his current employer and the Coast Guard sort of took a back burner. He had this awesome opportunity and it wasn’t as though being in the military had been a life-long dream of mine, I saw it as a way out of my current discontent. By October after having decided to forego my plans for military service I did leave my position with the software company and was working 3 part time jobs and in January 2014 had started a new position as the Events Director at the local Chamber of Commerce. By March we got our first home and life continued in those jobs and that house for the next couple years. In May 2016 we found out I was pregnant with our first child and we welcomed her to the world in January 2017. At this point Rory’s immediate family had all moved to St. Augustine: his brothers (both younger) moved in September 2013 and his parents in June 2016 while mine were still in southeastern Virginia 3.5 hours away. We had a really strong circle of friends but being so far from family with a newborn wasn’t easy and there was a lot to consider about our future and our family.

In May 2017 Rory had to go to Ohio for a work retreat-meeting and had a conversation with his manager about his interest in finding a position in Florida. Only 3 days after he returned he got a call that there was a position open in Jacksonville, Florida and the interview process began. Mere weeks after mentioning he may be interested in relocating he got word from Florida and he was to report for duty by September 1. So here we are a year and a half later, just a couple months away from welcoming our baby boy and life is wonderful.

Of course there have been difficult times, but that’s not really the point of this entry, just a brief synopsis of the last decade. While time and distance has separated me from majority of my former college companions it would be really nice to reunite. Unfortunately the reunion is taking place at a really inconvenient time: 2 weeks after the arrival of baby boy. Being two weeks postpartum from a c-section and a 12 hour car ride don’t mix well. For now I’m going to start compiling my photo/story journal of my college career and hopefully one of these years we can go up for another Homecoming, that’s usually just as good as a full-fledged reunion.

In the meantime we are continuing on our merry little way in this thing called life. Cheers!

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