Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?
I rummaged through the crap mess in the console of my truck and not only realized I desperately need to clean it but found a dime and on it was stamped 1996.
It was 1996, the year I graduated high school. It should have been a time in my life of festivities and prepping for senior prom and senior skip day with my best friends while making memories of a lifetime; instead, I saw it as utterly painful. I didn’t realize then that I was still making memories of a lifetime and that I would make a new friend to carry with me the rest of my life. I lived in Ohio at the time because my father was transferred there during my senior year. I met one of my very best friends there. Both of us were dealt the horrible fate of spending our senior year away from our original high school and all our friends. I moved from Atlanta and she from New Jersey (though originally from Alabama). We formed an instant friendship.
We both had to leave high school boyfriends behind, obviously and neither of us was too pleased and we bonded over that quickly. We became a quick cliché of Misery Likes Company and we kept to ourselves for the most part. To make sure everyone knew just how miserable we were, we dressed in head to toe black on Valentine’s Day because, well, why not. It was still the grunge era so we had a lot of black hanging around.
I graduated in May and by that time my father had been transferred again, this time to Florida though I was convinced I would be stopping and staying in Georgia. I was eager to get back to Mr. EMT and could see no reason why I couldn’t stay on with a family member and attend college there. 1996, coincidentally was also the year the Olympics were in Atlanta so my parents rationalized that it wouldn’t be a good time for me to move back, and I should just wait a little while longer. I didn’t realize at first that it was a ploy to try to keep me in Florida where they knew my future would probably be brighter since I would be in college. They were smart, my parents, they knew me far better than I knew myself.
Fast forward to the end of 1996, after a few new friendships and entirely too much partying, I decided it was time to go back to Georgia. I secretly bought a bus ticket, gave my 2-week notice at my job, and was prepared to leave my parents in almost a haste. I knew they wouldn’t approve. I knew they would be desperately disappointed, but I missed Mr. EMT so much that I felt I would lose him completely if I didn’t return.
My mother, being the brilliantly smart woman she is, somehow found out that I was leaving and she drove me there. In almost complete silence. It was one of the most heartbreaking moments of my life. I could feel her anxiety, I could feel her fear, and I could feel her love. She was going to let me go, but it was going to break her heart. She knew the struggles I would face, but I was 18 and I wouldn’t hear anything about it.
1996 was a monumental year for me, almost as much as 1997 when Mr. EMT and I welcomed The Eldest long before we were prepared to be parents and started going through the struggles my mom knew were coming.