Starting Over. Again

Had some communications issues yesterday. I was online briefly in the morning, but I just couldn’t get back on until this morning. I wasn’t sure how I was going to write this anyway, without sounding like I was whining. Annoying as it is, though, a little whining might do you some good. Key word “little.”

I’ll start off with what helped put me on that track in the first place. Once upon a time, there was a girl from Indiana and a boy from South Carolina. Maybe a little too far back. How about Wednesday, when I was at that informational meeting for an MBA from my alma mater? Better choice, perhaps. Throughout my life, there have been starts and stops, reboots and revivals, and periods of time that were just there. Much like anyone else. They’re getting to me. At my age, I’m supposed to be established. Especially since I’m not having to worry about kids or a spouse. And yet, it seems I’ve gone back to the beginning once more. I haven’t, of course, I already have a bachelor’s degree (in music, but it counts), and years of working experience, but there’s also a matter of for how much those years of working experience count, versus what I believe I can actually do, as well as the thought of going back to school and perhaps doing something to improve that situation.

Garden of the Gods - Canon A590 IS
Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado

I found a cost of living calculator; it’s not hard to do, and I had to check something. I wanted to know at what point, adjusting for inflation, I had the highest income. On paper, it’s today. And it’s still not really enough. Really, though, I was making the most in 2001. Full of energy and promise, I threw that away to move to another state, no job, no friends or family, nowhere to live other than an extended-stay hotel. I had savings, more than I’ve ever had at one time even without adjusting for cost of living. I had calculated the best place for me to go, the likeliest spot to find a job, and where I could possibly afford to live for a couple months while I looked. That’s how I wound up in Colorado Springs, with a car I’d purchased just a couple months ago (didn’t miss a payment) and ancient suitcases that had been gathering dust in the basement.

The time before that was a typical period of starting over. I was in college, and I thought I was in love. I knew I couldn’t go back to my mother’s house one more summer, I knew that I had to find a way to avoid it. I knew that this man I was dating would be kind to me, nice, probably a good father if a little light on the discipline. In the back of my mind, I also knew that it probably wasn’t the right time to be making a decision like that, that my reasoning was faulty, and my vision of the future greatly flawed. I won’t say marrying him was a mistake, because I don’t think it was. I got quite a bit out of it. It was poorly thought out, poorly planned, poorly reasoned, and probably not a good idea in general, but it got me moving in the right direction. A fairly selfish result, I know.

I take that back; I’ll reserve judgment on whether it was a mistake, but I don’t regret it. There are precious few decisions I’ve made in my life that I regret, and more often than not, it is as “they” say, the things I didn’t do, usually out of fear, that I regret most.I regret not changing my major to economics while I was in college, in one of the better business schools in the region (now country). Yes, it’s public; always has been. Some people have been confused about that.

The Center for Performing Arts - my second home on campus.
The Center for Performing Arts, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio – my second home on campus.

I regret not using the tuition reimbursement available to me while I was employed at Wells Fargo, in my six years with them. Colorado Springs is carpeted in colleges and universities, with good reputations; there were plenty of options for me. I had the time, and with loans, I’d have had the money, but I didn’t do it, even though I kept saying I was thinking about it, and knew what I wanted to study. I talked myself out of that for years. I regret not practicing piano more. I regret skipping so many voice lessons in college, and not working all that hard when I wasn’t in there. I regret how I behaved while I was married. Nothing like what some of our classmates – people who I thought were my friends – believed; I never strayed, never even thought about it, but I didn’t treat him all that well. I regret not learning to play guitar. I did, briefly, but I didn’t stay with it for long. I can justify every single one of those things, but how honest would that be, really? There were somewhat extenuating circumstances too, things I couldn’t control, but there were things I could, but didn’t. That is the source of my regrets. Might not have worked out better than it did, but I’d know I did all I could.

I haven’t decided whether I’m going back to school – it’s not a matter of academic concern, I believe I can handle that, and given a chance to speak to someone, I think I’d be able to get in. It’s money. Those bills I’m paying? They eat up a lot of my income. Tuition reimbursement doesn’t even cover a third of the total cost, and I’d have to fill up my car way more often (currently only once a month. Seriously.). I don’t want to take out student loans – the private ones are ridiculous and will never be paid off because of the way the interest is compounded. But I also don’t want to stay where I am, wondering if I could have done more.

Once again, I am at a point of change. After my ignominious return home from Colorado, I’ve worked to pay my own bills, and I’m doing just that. I’m tired, though, of being stuck, of having the same cycle repeat once every decade or so. It’s time for something new. Time to make a change that sticks, to do all that I can to make it happen, so that even if things don’t change, or they fall apart, I’ll know I made that effort.

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