After calming from my panic attack, I drove to the beach, parked, walked over to a bar, ordered a double and found a palm tree to chill on. After taking in the magnitude of what I had just done, I dialed both my parents. Dad of course never worried, he thought I was indestructible, like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix, (he actually said that) and figured I would be fine. Mom was cool, she always worried but I was 43 and she had grown used to me giving her gray hairs.
Throughout my life if when there was something I wanted to do, I typically made it happen. They weren’t always the best decisions, but I was stubborn, had been on my own most of the time so no one was telling me what to do. I was either running from one boyfriend to a new zip code or following another to a new state. Often, I would move for a job, or have no job at all, just an a photo of somewhere awesome I wanted to live. If there was too much thought put into it, I would talk myself out of it. That’s how I made it from growing up in Indiana before moving to Illinois, Georgia, Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and St. Maarten and eventually seeing the world. Usually with only a few bucks in my pocket, a small truck full of stuff and a dumb idea.
See, at 43 everyone in yachting would have told me I was nuts if I had said I was quitting a perfectly good job to work on yachts. I knew it too! As a Crew Agent, I learned all about how it works. Typically, once the aspiring yachtie graduates college, they pack a bag and head for the nearest crewing agency to apply for work. The hierarchy is similar to the military, there are ranks and usually the higher you are on the food chain, the older you are. Now that’s the norm for yachts with 4 or more crew, anywhere between 100 and 300 plus feet but the boats under 100 feet ran things a bit differently and age was not a big deal. Especially for me because I was in the best shape of my life and could run circles around some of those young girls.
As I was sipping my adult beverage and having a good cry, all of this occurred to me, and it scared me to death. I immediately text the owner of the yacht I had just worked on, but he specifically told me not to quit my day job because there was no guarantee he could keep me busy. It was summertime in South Florida, the slowest time of the year for yacht charters and he was a private owner, didn’t use a broker. But of course, I didn’t listen so here I am, again, back to square one. Even though everything seemed hopeless at this point, I still felt relieved and so glad I left that job.
Let me start from the beginning…
I guess the story would be more interesting if you had an idea of who I was and where I came from. Northwest Indiana was a great place to be a kid. We experienced leaves turning in the fall, flowers blooming in the spring and snow falling in the winter. When it was warm and sunny, 4 whole months of the year, we were outside all day long riding bikes, swimming in pools, playing sports, building forts, burning bonfires and carving out trails in the woods.
Growing up, like many of my friends in the 70’s, I had 2 homes. My parents split when I was 3, which I don’t really recall, just always seemed normal to spend the weekends with Dad and his new family and the week with Mom. Dad had a good city job, Monday through Friday’s typically but Mom’s schedule was a bit all over. She waited tables and tended bar at night in a local Mexican restaurant, often not getting home until 1 and 2 in the morning. I used to wait up, watching TV shows like ‘The Honeymooners’, ‘All in the Family’ and ‘Sanford and Son’ to stay awake. As soon as I heard her pull up, I would run downstairs to greet her and be the first to see what kind of Mexican food she would bring home from the restaurant, it was always delicious.
Often, I would go with her to work, helping out in the kitchen, taking orders, serving food, clearing tables and washing dishes. I loved going to work with Mom, even at 10 years old, hospitality was natural to me. It also gave me a better appreciation of how hard her job was. Dad had a big yard with plenty of trees and grass to take care of. In the summer, the leaves and twigs never stopped falling. We would spend hours raking and bagging them up only to turn around and have to start all over again. In the winter, it seemed we were always shoveling snow and I hated it all! But I owe both of my folks a big Thank You, because if they had just let us watch TV and play Atari, my work ethic would not be as strong as it is today!
Like most siblings, we would fight, a lot! Mom would leave for work as soon as we came home from school. That meant we could do whatever we wanted until she got home….and we did. (Homework was not one of them) There were 3 of us, me being the youngest, I seemed to always be left alone. My older brother and sister were supposed to keep an eye on me, but they were older and had better things to do.
That was OK with me because there were lots of kids in the neighborhood, mostly boys and a few girls. Between fighting with my siblings, hanging with my Marine Vietnam Veteran Dad and being one of the ‘guys’, I became pretty tough. And back then, instead of cell phones and computers, we had pellet guns, the woods, motor bikes, forts, kick the can, ditch on bikes and TV tag.
The one thing we didn’t have was parental supervision when at mom’s during the week. I also had to figure out boys and dating on my own and that was disastrous, even to this day, I still can’t figure out how to have a successful relationship. And style?? Forget about it!! There wasn’t much money for designer clothes and even if there was, I had no idea what to wear. My hair was awful, I wore super thick glasses because I couldn’t see 2 feet in front of my face, was not popular and an OK student. 9th grade most of the girls had hit puberty sporting their new boobs while I was flat as a board. I did experience my first love though, he was sweet, we dated the whole year and broke up by summer.
I wasn’t sad anymore either about the breakup because out of nowhere my boobs grew, mom saved up and bought me contacts, my friend got a car, and I had a job at McDonald’s. All of a sudden, the boys were noticing me, and it was AWESOME!!
10th grade was coming, and it was scary because our Jr. High combines with the other Jr. High in the High School building. What if my friends didn’t have the same lunch hour or the older students were bullies??? I’ll tell you what, High School was not fun, I was bullied from day one and did nothing to deserve it….