My brief reflection on how I got to where I am now in life and some of life's changes
I had just gone through a separation from the mother of my only our daughter, who was four years old at the time. After we separated, I was forced to move out of the manufactured home we had been struggling to pay for together because I could neither sell it nor afford to make the payments any longer by myself. Nor did I want to. For a time, I felt as if I had been sentenced to a period of solitude, working long hours in a job that brought me little happiness and a great deal of physical and emotional fatigue, struggling alone to plant and maintain the yard our the park in which we chose to install our home required its residents do to a certain standard of acceptance, all while living in a rural area far enough away from the Portland suburbs that I might as well have been living on an island, only a boat ride away from the mainland but certainly not easy to establish a connection with.
For a while I moved back in with my parents. This situation was an all-too-familiar one for me—as for them, I am sure—but at thirty-something it was no longer acceptable to either my parents nor to me for any appreciable length of time. So I found a waiter job on the coast and moved to Seaside.
My first day of living there, I thought it would be cool to go for a jog along the beach, a free man in his lovely new environment, surrounded by the soft-repetitive sounds of the waves breaking and the scent of salt and sand and the ecology that tends to arise where the ocean meets the land. But my enjoyment was short-lived. I pulled my groin while rapidly treading through the soft sand. That inevitably had an effect on my ability to serve customers in a busy new restaurant, so after a short time, I lost my job as a waiter, too.
I was not ready to give up, however, and I soon found two part-time jobs working for Safeway and doing caregiving at a local assisted living facility—the latter of which gave me more satisfaction than I had ever known at any job I’d ever done in my entire life up to that point. Thus, I knew that I had made the right decision when I chose to embark upon a new career path. Doing so meant I needed to accept an approximately 70% cut in pay, but I believed it was—and would be—well worth it. I set out to earn my certified nursing assistant license and I even checked into the military to get some financial help and experience as I tried to figure out just what area of the medical field I should enter into.
I could never have imagined that seventeen years later I’d just be starting graduate school, but that is exactly what I’ll be doing next fall. There were times when I imagined I’d be a doctor and still many more times I envisioned myself as a neuroscientist, among other things. And I will become not an M.D. or a PhD but a doctor of physical therapy. Furthermore, I should graduate just shy of my 51st birthday. I guess I should count myself lucky I still look fairly young (except for the gray hairs I keep trying to pluck on an almost daily basis!). I’m grateful for that and so much more. Not just for finally being selected by the one school in which I invested my dreams when I first began applying for DPT school three years ago, but for having gone through so many changes since my separation in 2000 (and eventual divorce the following year), for having gone through at least some significant changes since I graduated high school in 1987, and for being the kind of man now who can appreciate the far-reaching implications of all of these changes and not just celebrate the obvious acceptance. I’m also grateful I’m at least wise and/or prudent enough now not to go out for a celebratory run on the beach or anywhere else without a proper warmup and stretch so as to avoid pulling my groin or any other muscles in the coming months as spring approaches, the sun brings warmth and light more often, and I prepare for grad school to begin.