Graduation, May 1980
As the other graduates wept their copious tears, my only thoughts were profound relief that these four years were over, and irrepressible eagerness for My Future to begin. College had been a bumpy ride for me, and I was yearning for a fresh start. As we all donned our caps and gowns and meandered to the ceremony, it dawned on me that already these entanglements were fading in my interior rearview mirror.
As the uninspiring commencement speaker droned on, and the Bachelor of Arts degree officially was conferred, I felt exhilarated, optimistic, and fearless. Throughout the day of celebration, no inner alarm blared any hint of warning that, despite my terrific liberal arts education, I lacked specific career training and was ill prepared for launch into The Real World.
I was CONFIDENT.
Sure, the path forward was unclear, but it was easy to make the first crucial choice: where to seek my fortune. I decided to plant my seedling self in Washington, D.C., because this is the city where my older sister and brother had already surfed the waters and found their adult moorings. It meant my fledgling flight to Grown-up Land would have a relatively gentle landing. And I was eager to experience city living, too, after many years chafing from the straight jacket of rural Upstate New York.
Before I embarked on my new adventure, I had a brief sojourn at my parents’ home to spend a few weeks sewing a professional wardrobe I could wear for job interviews and office work, and to finalize my sparse resume. As soon as several skirts, blouses and one suit were stitched, and I had in hand a box of finely printed resumes, I packed up my things and my father drove me 400 miles south to my sister’s place in Georgetown, where she shared a townhouse with several other women.
The initial plan was for this to be a temporary lodging for me, until I secured a job and found a place to live on my own. What savings I had would enable me to eke by and contribute to the household expenses while I commenced the job search.
Thus, began my greatly anticipated Grown-Up Life.