I must say, that while I would not relive my teen years, I could do a little "Groundhog Day" on much of my 20's. I loved my 20's. A great deal of my memories revolve around a lot of drinking but something about it all of that was just plain, good old fashion fun. I was a very serious teen in many ways and I really let my hair down in my 20's. For the first time in my life, I truly lived in the moment. And what a moment it was....
21. Moving Out and Moving On: While I moved to State College when I was 19 to be with Mark, I hated it there and spent most of the time wishing I was back at home with my friends and family. It wasn't until I was back home, transferred to Neumann College and learning how to live without Mark, did I really move out and move on. I distinctly remember the day I moved out of my mother's house. In fact, I'm pretty sure I spent that morning journaling. I knew that I would never live under that roof again. Not because I wasn't welcome, but instead because I knew it was my time to move on. I moved into an apartment in Kennett Square with my childhood friend Laura and went about the business of really growing up. Of course, there is a huge learning curve on that one.
22. 12 - 2 Scum Club: Many of you reading this will know what I'm talking about while the rest of you will wonder WTF. There is this counterculture that exists still today. It is made up with all people that don't fit society's mold and expectations about what your life should look like. Because the prevailing cultural message is that the good life requires you to follow the rules, settle down, get a 9 - 5 job and play along. Then there are the rest of us (yes - I still consider myself one of them). We never followed the rules. We didn't like getting up in the morning. We liked our happy hour to start at midnight. And the best night of the week to go out drinking was a Sunday night. We were/are the people who needed to work all those other hours so that the 9 to 5ers could live the good life. So we served your food and made your drinks. Or we built your houses or installed your plumbing. And we loved to hang out in the Chadds Ford Tavern from 12 - 2. Then someone made the mistake of calling us scum. Then, I, with all my wit and charm, though maybe we should make some shirts and wear them on the bartender who attracted on the scum's last night and do a reveal at midnight. So all night long I sold 12-2 Scum Club t-shirts out of my car at a 50 cent per shirt profit (stupid me). And at midnight, the whole bar pulled a superman and viola....the club in all their glory!
23. Life at the Chadds Ford Tavern: While the Kennett Square Inn has been a mainstay in my life since I was 15 years old; the Chadds Ford Tavern was the backdrop to much of the drama that unfolded in my early to mid 20's. Having older siblings who were "regulars" there combined with working in the restaurant business at an early age, no one seemed to notice or care that I was a very young looking 21 year old who only drank fuzzy navels. Three years later, when I actually did turn 21 (and had moved on to Tangeray Sterling Vodka Gimlets, shaken not stirred), I handed my drivers license down the bar. It passed from one patron to the next until it ended up in the bartenders hand. He looked at me and said "Shit. You gotta be kidding me. Can I buy you a drink?" I spent ALOT of time in that bar. This was back when they would still lock a select few in at 2am and we wouldn't leave until the sun was up. One night, my friend Don (you know the guy who installed my toilet - see earlier blog), who was a bartender there, and I stayed in the bar until about 6am drinking and listening to music (I swear that's all). Then we thought it would be a great idea to go to Hank's for breakfast. So we grabbed a few splits of champagne and headed down the road (I know...very irresponsible). He went into one bathroom; me in the other and we popped the splits and then poured them into our orange juice. Then, since we hadn't had enough to drink, we thought it would be a great idea to drink some more. So I headed to his house while he went back to the bar to pick up more booze. I woke up on his couch to find him staring at me drinking a beer and holding a bottle of vodka. I looked at him like he was crazy and rolled over and went back to sleep. A few hours later I woke up and his roommate refused to let me leave. Apparently, he was the only smart one in the building. And there are plenty more where that came from.
24. Becoming a Speed Bump (another Tavern story): I will be the first to admit, I drank alot in my 20's, especially my early 20's. I didn't drink alot in my teens, unless you count the part when I was hanging out in bars in my late teens. So I guess I made up for lost time. Anyway - let me preface this story not only with the fact that I drank alot, but I was also suffering from what I like to call "frontal lobe disorder". "Frontal lobe disorder" is a common disorder that affects ALL young adults between the ages of 18 - 24. It cannot be avoided. You see, research has revealed (for real) that the frontal lobe of the brain, which is responsible for things like impulse control and the ability to make good choices, doesn't fully develop until your mid 20's. So all of those really dumb decisions you make in your late teens and early 20's can be blamed on "frontal lobe disorder". So "frontal lobe disorder" is what lead me to engage in a year and a half relationship with a guy who ultimately ended up running me over with his car. This guy (who many of you know) was not a bad guy. In fact, he was a pretty good guy (waaay deep down) who partied too hard and liked women. I was stupid enough to make myself available to him whenever he wanted. And he was fun and we really did get along. But eventually, I grew tired of being used and abused and decided to confront him.I was kneeling next to his car in the parking lot of the Tavern talking into the window when a nearby car went to pull out. Since those who drink and drive tend to have reflexes that tend be a little off the mark, what transpired was him throwing his car into reverse and my attempt to push out of the way turn into my knee getting caught under the wheel. I think the kicker for me was that after his car stopped about 100 feet away, he jumped out of the car and yelled "Are you ok?" followed a milli-a-second later by "I didn't hit you. You fell down." Which followed with me jumping up and running on a slightly dislocated kneecap towards him screaming "You did hit me. You hit me with your car." And then I unloaded all of my frustration of a year and a half on him (because when you are suffering from "frontal lobe disorder" that is the most important thing). And I will tell you this. My frontal lobe has fully grown (or so I think) and I now realize what an ass I was. And about a year ago I contacted him and let him know I forgave him. Because after 18 years, it was finally time to let it go.
25. Graduating from College: By far, my greatest accomplishment to that point in my life was graduating from college. Not only graduating but getting a 4.0 my last 5 semesters. After leaving Penn State after 2 1/2 years, I transferred home to Neumann College where I finished my bachelors in Psychology. I thrived in the small environment (12 people in my program) which focused on critical thinking skills. I didn't take tests. I wrote papers and I was very good at it. I remember the day I graduated feeling the most centered I had ever felt in my life. Like all was right in the world and that I was responsible for it all. Plus I had a killer party at the Kennett Square Inn.
26: Figuring out Graduate School was not for me: After graduating from college with a Bachelors in Psychology, my career options were limited. Let's remember, I was bartending at the time, making really good money for a 24 year old. There was no way I could justify in my "frontal lobe disordered" mind that taking an entry level job for $8/hour was a good idea. So I did when most psychology majors do; I went to graduate school. I started at Villanova in their Counseling Psychology program specializing in, of all things, addictions!! Funny thing - my professor and mentor and Neumann, as well as the head of the honors department both told me I was making a huge mistake going into Villanova's program. Both insisted that I needed to be in a program that really supported the thinker in me and that the counseling program was not that program. I insisted that I was sick of school and need to get a job. I needed a program that would produce a job at the end. I insisted they did not know what I needed. They were right. I was wrong - Damn Frontal Lobe!!! I'll never forget when it happened. I was sitting in Giordano's, where I was bartending at the time, talking about school when it hit me. I hated it. I wasn't going back next semester. I just decided in that very moment. And I called my mother the next day to tell her and she said, "I was waiting for you to figure it out. You aren't nearly as excited when you talk about your classes as when you were at Neumann." So I took my finals and withdrew. And didn't go back for 7 years.
27. Dewey Beach: Since I had all this free time now that I had dropped out of graduate school. I figured that I might as well become a beach bunny. I honestly have no idea how it came to be but I ended up in a summer rental with 2 of my girlfriends, Jimmy, one of my customers from Giordanos and these other 3 people I had never met. We split the house by bedrooms so the men got their own, so as not to have anything interfere with all the hooking up they would be doing. My one friend and I were usually only there Sunday through Tuesday and we rarely even made it out on to the beach. I think we just drank alot. And danced at the Bottle and Cork. And we had no air conditioning in our house, so everyone, especially Dale, complained alot. I can remember sitting in the chair one night, closing my eyes, then opening them and it was morning. And in Dewey was, and is the only time in my life I ever blacked out from drinking. The only thing I can attest to is waking up and my hair was wet. I was in Dale's bed and he was in mine. When I went in and asked him why all he said was "go look in the bathroom". And I did. And it was bad. The only part of the story I am willing to disclose in the blog is that I went into the bathroom and they heard a thump. When they came to the door, I said "don't come in" but they did. And I was in the tub. With my feet dangling out. And I had gotten sick. But that's all I'm saying.
28. Reconnecting with Mark: So the winter after the summer spent in Dewey, I reconnected with Mark, the college boyfriend who had left me devastated and destroyed in the parking lot in State College many years before. I was at work one night and got a call from my mother. She said "guess who called here looking for you?" And I said "Mark." I have no idea why I knew it was him, other than I couldn't possibly think of any other person who would call my mother. He had become a State trooper stationed out of Avondale and drove by my mother's everyday. She gave him my number and we made a date to go to lunch. When I got there he told me that he wanted to let me know that his girlfriend had just broken up with him and that he was really hurt by it. And that now, he understood what he had done to me all those years ago. So after lunch, I got in the car, smiled and waved and began to cry. I was so devastated by his nonchalant attitude.But after a few days I had come to see it as closure and put it to bed. A week later, he called me and asked to see me. We married a year and a half later. I will say this - I loved him wholeheartedly.
29. Losing Jimmy: Finding out that my friend Jimmy had committed suicide was by far one of the most devastating moments of my life. In many ways, I looked at his death as even harder to handle than the death of my father. I mean, my father didn't choose to die. How could anyone make a conscious choice to give up on life? I felt hurt, anger and guilt all wrapped into one tiny little package. How didn't I know? He had come to see me, out of the blue, about a month before it happened. He wanted to let me know that he knew he had a drinking problem and that he had stopped. I remember really trying to encourage him. Then I remember seeing him about 2 weeks before he died at a party. He had been drinking and he came over to me to explain. I told him "You have nothing to explain to me Jimmy. One day at at time. You need to just take it a day at a time." I called him a few times after that and he never returned my calls. So when I heard that he had killed himself, I was heartbroken. I cried for days. I didn't think I would ever stop crying. All I kept thinking about was that he was alone at the end. And that broke my heart. And it still breaks my heart. Because he really wasn't alone. He just thought he was. Suicide is such a waste.
30. Losing my Marriage: And so my marriage wasn't meant to be. Maybe I'm just tired but that's the long and short of it. There wasn't a day of my marriage that I didn't believe that I was going to be married until the day I died. Not until the day Mark came home and told me he didn't want to be married. There's a funny thing about divorce. By the time it actually happens, usually one of the partners has left the building. And it was clear that Mark had left the building. It was very unceremonious and matter of fact. He couldn't understand why I was surprised. But I was. Because while he was stewing in his discontent, he never once told me. Looking back now, I see signs that he was pulling away but they were very subtle. Our work schedules were opposite (I had moved on to the 9 - 5 life while he was on a permanent midnight shift) and he had recently spent alot of time away with the reserves. I just assumed that if he was unhappy, he would have let me know about it. But he didn't. So the divorce was shocking, hurtful and incredibly painful. I felt betrayed and like my entire life was a lie. I won't pretend that I was perfect but I am a firm believer that nothing in life is easy and you just don't walk away because it gets tough. But he disagreed. It was just like a death.