Well, not surprisingly, I was expected to go to college next. And all I had was wanderlust. I had great parents; but they expected me to get an education.
I went to Medicine Hat College, and took a University Transfer Programme in Journalism. I joined the college paper and then the editor (the only staff member) quit. I became the editor!
Instead of quitting the paper myself, I just slacked off on my classes. I quit the paper (and college) at the end of the college year. My brother urged me to move to Winnipeg. I have fantastic parents, my mother is controlling. And at that time, I didn't know how to cope with that. I moved to Winnipeg, got a job at the Bay and lived with my brother and his girlfriend. Didn’t stick. Didn’t like his girlfriend, his girlfriend didn’t like me and they moved out.
I then went to Calgary to take an LPN programme. I had the intelligence, but not the drive to be an LPN.
Hmm, what after that? Oh yeah I went back to Medicine Hat College and tried to complete the BA University Transfer Programme. Found drama. Ooops!
Whilst in drama, I met lovely British Soldier and fell in lust and love and ended up moving to England after the end of the school year.
The lovely British Soldier (aka LBS from now on) was getting out of the army before we met. After he got out of the army about a year later, and I settled with him in Salford, Greater Manchester. Which you can still see remnants of the Industrial Revolution and WWII.
LBS surprised me and bought a house for me before I moved there. He was thoughtful and thought we would want a home. We got engaged and married in 1994. My brother married his wife (thankfully not the same girlfriend) the same year.
The house unfortunately needed fixing up and we didn’t have the resources. We lived in a building site for whole time that I lived in it. Unfortunately, the area that we lived in went downhill and we had negative equity.
LBS had got a job with Salford City Council. Which paid very little and I got a job in a pub. I had tons of different jobs, all unsatisfying. The local job centre employees knew me by name and helped me out whenever I was looking for a job.
I didn’t realise how upper middle class my parents were until I moved to the U.K. I didn’t realise how tough it can be to make ends meet. I also didn’t realise that I was a spoiled princess.
There were a few hiccups on the way, but I learned how to live with hardly anything (hopefully I can put it back into practice to save my money for Belize).
Those first few years were the hardest. I dealt with clinical depression. I became agoraphobic and slept all the time. LBS had to deal with me. LBS was very supportive throughout. (Aside: One of the funniest lines that my father-in-law had to say about my depression was that ‘It was all in my head.’)
I think depression set in after 18 months of being in Manchester. In all this time, I didn’t make a single friend. I didn’t realise it, but I had ‘DESPERATE FOR FRIENDS’ tattooed on my forehead. And I didn’t have any takers.
The depression turned out to be a blessing. I was on the dole (social assistance). As I was getting normalised on the anti-depressants, I finally ventured out and found some local writing groups.
‘The Monday Night Group’, affectionately called the MiNGe by its members, became my home away from home, and its members became my closest friends and second family. They still are.
About four years after I moved there, I had been a resident long enough to get funded to go back to school by the Local Authority. Bonus! I went to the University of Salford and took a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology. Computers didn’t interest me, but hey, there was money in it. And by this time, I wanted MONEY!
Plus, I was a student again! A 26 year old student, but a student nonetheless. Thankfully there was a good mix of mature students and young students on the course. There was a lot of teamwork involved, and I ended up mixing with the younger students more than the older ones. I didn’t have any children, and I was still pretty immature for my age.
Three years later (degrees are 3 years in the U.K.), I had a BSc in IT (Hons). I liked writing, so I thought I would become a Technical Author.
Back home my brother was moving up as a behind-the-scenes guy in the Manitoba provincial government. He and his wife had just had their second son. Things seemed to be going well for them. He loved his job and he loved being a Dad.
I found work as a Tech Author, and things were looking up for us; except for one very important thing. LBS was in the TA (Territorial Army) and to make more money; he, with my approval had decided to take a posting. He was posted to Kosovo when I was in my last year of University. And I unfortunately loved the time and space away from him. Kosovo was in Peace Keeping times. LBS wasn’t in any danger; but unfortunately our marriage was.
Two years after I left university, we separated for six months. We went to marriage counselling; but for some strange reason the marriage counsellor took my side on everything. Which didn’t seem fair, even to me. LBS took it though and we reconciled.
It didn’t stick though. I loved him, but he drove me crazy. I was mean to him and I didn’t like the mean shrewish like thing that I was turning into. You know those old couples that you see and one of them (usually the wife) is a bossy and terribly mean to their other half? I could picture myself becoming that. I didn’t want to become that, and I didn’t want to subject LBS to that as he really IS lovely.
After LBS and I split, quite amicably (we are Facebook friends), I moved to Whalley Range in Manchester. I was working and everything was going well. I had a male friend (but it was a rebound lust thing), and I had always had a great group of friends.
Then my memory started going and my hair started falling out. I was gaining weight too. But since I was overweight, I thought that it was from overeating. A dodgy memory is not a great thing to have when you are in the computer industry tasked with writing instructional manuals for complex software. Combined with that, my boss was a naturist and unintentionally was pressuring myself and a co-worker into travelling to his house and going for lunch. I don’t think he was being perverse in any way, but it was uncomfortable. My co-worker filed sexual harassment charges. I was interviewed and added onto the complaint. I didn't feel good about being the cause of someone else losing their job. He was a good guy that was just extremely inappropriate. Because of the memory thing combined with the sexual harassment suit, they gave me a severance and I was laid off.
My doctor tried telling me that it was depression, since I did have it in the past. I knew what depression felt like. This didn’t feel like that. Finally about six months later we found out that I was severely hypothyroid (low functioning thyroid). It took me another six months to go back to my normal levels. But thankfully I did.
Added to that, Sept 11, 2001 happened. I am not in any way marginalising the tragedy that occurred there, but the IT market crashed. So getting another job was hard. I did a couple of contracts, but then the market totally waned and finding a job was near impossible.
Since I and LBS had split, my mother had wanted me to come home. I had been unemployed for quite some time and I was having trouble making ends meet. My mother offered to pay for me to come home. After several times saying ‘No’, I finally said ‘Yes’ in a weak moment. Retrospectively, I don’t know if that was the right choice. I’m glad I was in Canada when some events in my family’s life happened. But other than that I wonder if it was the right thing to do….
So at the age of 32, I moved back to MediumSizedTown, Alberta. And I moved in with my parents!