|Me at my high school graduation in Miami, FL. Such a kid!|
Not all that long ago, I graduated from high school. Seems like a blink of an eye. Everything lay spread out in front of me.... college on the horizon, family at my back... by and large, not a care in the world. Hard to imagine knowing that level of certainty and peace given what I have been through in the intervening years.
On the night this was taken, my girlfriend Kharmen made sure that I wore my hair down. Usually I could be counted on having my hair pulled back tight into a ponytail, as it had been for two years at that point. A few months later, as my first winter at college in Massachusetts began, that hair got snipped very short.
|Aurora at about 9 months, in Logan, UT|
In between the first image of me at graduation, and the second image of me with Aurora in my arms, entire worlds came together, shifted, stretched, broke, were remade again... over and over. I drove from FL to Maine, back to FL again (four times in 3 years), out to Washington State by bus and back (3 days, each way!)... finally pulling a car carrier with an ugly Ryder rental truck into Utah in 1995. Less than two years after our arrival in UT, Aurora entered the world.
In that space between leaving my family in FL and starting my family out West, so much changed. I went from being a gregarious, nurturing, extrovert, with charisma and intelligence to becoming someone not quite the opposite. Certainly broken... in hindsight that much is obvious.. but more to the point, I became more timid, less adventurous, more introverted, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I found it hard to be engaged with my peers in grad school. I was unable to find work in Logan UT due to my not being part of the LDS church. Not long after Aurora was born, I approached my professor and let him know I was considering dropping out of the program. He and I had not seen eye to eye for quite a while at that point. I felt like I was wasting my time in the program. Instead, he encouraged me to teach. Quite possibly one of his more insightful moments. Teaching helped bring me back to who I am. It gave me a stage from which to share. I had no idea how bad things would get not long after that.