Detour Stories, Part VIII (Day #60)

Detours are, by definition, an alternate road.  A different path.  They force us off the familiar highway onto untraveled terrain.

Sometimes we end up exactly where we planned.

Often we don’t.

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My Detour

by Nicole Larsen

As I think back to determine when this little detour started, I realize my life has been a myriad of detours. The only difference in this recent one was my inability to get back on the path.

When I was 19, I landed a very well-paying job (for my age) at a brokerage company. I worked there for 2 years but I wasn’t convinced it was my “calling.” I knew I wanted to work in a recording studio. I researched schools and internships, none of which are anywhere near my hometown of Salt Lake City, UT. I set my heart on a school in Orlando, FL, the best in the nation for the business. I was more than half-finished with my business degree here, though, and none of the credits would transfer, so I decided I should stay and finish first. In the meantime, I was laid off, had to take a huge pay cut waitressing to pay my bills, and somewhere in there met a great guy, despite my best efforts to stay single.

I eventually worked back up into a well-paying investments position, finished my degree, built a house, got engaged. The “now what” thoughts after graduating led me to evaluate the future of my job, my life. If I was going to go to Florida, it seemed like now or never. After lengthy discussions with my fiancée, in-laws, parents, and friends, I enrolled. I gave my notice, found some fellow students with whom to share an apartment, and hauled myself and basic necessities to the other side of the country. The program was an accelerated 2-year degree in only a year, so my fiancée stayed back home. I went to school over 40 hours per week, at odd hours around the clock, waited tables 7 days, as many hours as I could fit it to keep up my half of the bills. I slept 2 hours some nights. My heart ached for the distance of my love, and the lack of any familiar face within 3000 miles.

But I remained dedicated. This was my dream, after all. You don’t just quit on a dream.

Not only did I finish my degree, but I finished with a 3.9 and perfect attendance. I returned home, and immediately visited every resemblance of a studio in the valley, from chamber orchestras, to advertising studios. I interned for 2 on alternating days. I hosted at a fancy restaurant, served at another, and took a grave yard dispatch shift in any non-studio time that existed. Eventually, I found a night job back in investments, and took my interning down to just one studio. I went to the studio on my own accord from 8-5 every day for over a year, trying to gain experience and build a resume, hoping to be hired someday. I worked at night and squeezed in a Saturday morning breakfast with my husband and everything worked just fine.

Then it all fell apart. Late in the fall of 2006, within 2 weeks, I lost just about everything. The studio had hired a full-time (more-experienced) engineer under my nose, my 20-year-old brother passed away in his sleep, I almost totaled my car, my beloved first pet passed away suddenly, and I broke a finger goofing around with the dog (my meager attempt as some sort of fun). My husband didn’t know how to support me, how to be there for me, and our marriage ended a few months later.

Without ties any longer, I decided to pursue my career in Los Angeles, which is certainly has many more opportunities. Again, I packed up my stuff, found a roommate in a decent area just outside of the city, an moved across the country, this time to the other coast. I hit the ground running and handed out resumes like they were furniture sale fliers. I visited studios, networked on the internet, anything I could think of. I actually landed an internship at a really need sound effects studio, I worked on CSI episodes, and some feature films. Problem: they weren’t hiring. My savings ran out early and my dad was sending me just enough each month for my rent, car payment, and gas. I started dating a local guy who’d had some experiences like mine, knew how to be supportive, etc. And I ended up pregnant.

Obviously, this was not planned. Besides the financial situation, the new relationship, the job search frustration, I was actively using birth control. In fact, I found out I was pregnant as part of a routine urine test before switching the birth control method. I struggled to decide what to do. The guy said he wanted to be together and have a family, but respected my decision. I opted not to tell anyone until I decided. I had been through so much for this career, and now was not a good time to raise a baby. What kind of life could I give it when I didn’t even know how to make a living there or have any support system? But I realized that if I had an abortion, I’d be too ashamed to ever tell anyone, and that meant I was against it. I knew I couldn’t carry a child to term and give it up. So, I had to come to terms with having a baby.

I told my dad when he came to visit for the holidays; I broke the news to my mom by phone, since I couldn’t find a way to visit in person. They both erupted with extreme emotions, agreeing (for the first time since I can remember) in disappointment. This guy got cold feet (presumably) and fell off the planet. My roommate had given me notice to move, I still didn’t have a job or money (thank the Lord and the government for food stamps and Medicaid). I fell apart. Literally, I fell on my knees and prayed and told God that I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. I knew that I couldn’t keep doing it how I wanted. I said that I would go where he wanted and that I knew he would take care of it better than I would. I cried and cried and prayed and prayed, and immediately began to feel some calm. Within the next week, my stepmom offered her home to me (back in UT), I found a way to ship my stuff back for free, used the moving money to get my drivers license back, and had the first doctor’s visit and got to see my little peanut on an ultrasound screen. I had a (good) job offer 4 days after I arrived.

When I told my ex-husband, he got really quiet. He always wanted kids, I was never convinced we were “ready.” He said he wasn’t mad, “I just wish it was mine.” He even went to the DMV for me and mailed my tags. He checked on me the whole drive home, stayed up late to make sure I made it in the snow storm, called me every few days to see how I was feeling. He drove all the way out of the city to bring me dinner once or twice, even offered to go to my prenatal appointments. Over the months, we ended up hanging out more than not, and inevitably THE conversation came up, “So, what are we? What do we do?” He wanted to know if the door with the bio-dad was closed, I wanted to know if he’d agree to counseling.

I ended up writing a big long letter to his family explaining everything we’d been through, working some serious issues out in counseling, and I moved back in the month before our son was born. We legally remarried last September.

I don’t work in a recording studio anymore. There really isn’t a market for that kind of work in Utah, short of freelancing. I’m in my fall-back job, my fancy sports car is parked, and my high-heels with miles of dance floor on them are dusty in a box. My detour certainly took me down an entirely different path. I actually love this path, though. It’s beautiful, different, scenic. I don’t know if I’ll even get back on the original one, but I don’t think I care.

(Nicole is one of the reasons I love the blogosphere.  She stumbled on ETD (blog hopping!) and commented.  And now we’re blog buddies.  Yay!)

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