Day 4: Adventure

Taking part in the Ann Dee Ellis 8-Minute Memoir Writing Challenge. This is Day Four. Write about a time you had an adventure. When you did or said something unexpected.


It occurs to me that I’ve had a lot of adventures. I haven’t followed a predictable path, except perhaps in it’s unpredictableness. I graduated young. I left home young (too young, looking back) and I moved to the beach. My first apartment was in a tiny beach town south of Santa Cruz, and my roommate was a one of the Beach Boys’ daughters. After that, I picked up and moved to Seattle on a lark, to go to art school. Some friends followed me and we lived as starving students in the Seattle where Nirvana was still playing small clubs. I couldn’t wait to get back to California after a year in the Seattle gloom and sodden skies.

I worked odd jobs, took some classes at the local college, and got a job as an art director. I flew back and forth from Seattle working for a company up there, and I followed the Grateful Dead for a while, bouncing up and down the west coast, hitting as many shows as I could – I only remember spending one show in the parking lot. Most of the time I got in. I had a boyfriend who rode Harley Davidson motorcycles, and one summer we packed up the bike and rode from San Francisco to Sturgis, South Dakota. And back. We camped along the way, except for showering in truck-stops. It’s not for the weak of heart, traveling that way. I never want to do it again, but I’m glad I did it once.

By my mid-twenties, it was time to settle down a bit. I got a real job working for a company in Palo Alto, and I lived alone for three years, ditching the roommates and practicing being a grown-up. It was a whole new adventure and a radical departure from my past. I worked for several years for a small company, managing importing toys and children’s goods from Germany. I learned a smattering of German, and even got to spend some time in Germany, where I traveled alone, made friends, and vacationed in Austria. I’ve snowboarded in the Alps, and had homemade schnapps made by an elderly war veteran while sitting on the side of a mountain.

My next adventure was bucking custom among most of my friends and getting married. I had three babies in four years, and then things got really interesting. That’s another story though. <insert all of Dandelion here> Against my liberal, hippie San Francisco roots, I joined a very conservative church, and have been struggling to reconcile my beliefs, which are deeply held and seem to inhabit different worlds, but which actually don’t have to, for more than a decade now.

I went back to school as a divorced woman in her late thirties with three children, and I did so surprisingly well at college that I got into one of the better universities in the country for graduate school. That was scary, leaving home, after the previous years, but I took a deep breath and leapt.

Years ago, I read something in a Joseph Campbell book- I don’t think he wrote it, but I think he was quoting someone else. “As you go the way of life, you will come to a great chasm. Jump. It’s not as wide as you think.”

Those words have been my draught of courage more times than I can count. And maybe my saving grace—it’s just a lot more fun when you’re doing it because you want to, and not because the land behind you has turned into an inferno.

So basically, I couldn’t decide which adventure to write about on the fly.

3 thoughts on “Day 4: Adventure

  1. This is a long shot- but was your job in Palo Alto for the Playstore? It doesn’t seem possible – but just in case. That was the most important toy store for my children growing up.

    • Yes, Tasha, it was! I helped create, photograph, and design their first two annual catalogs. 🙂

      My house is still full of wooden toys from Germany- most of which I collected prior to even being married, let alone a mother. Sitting on my desk is an Ostheimer St. Bernard, and I have a Haist rainbow tunnel on my bookshelf, and the kids’ NIC wooden trike/scooter made every move with us. I hope my grandchildren play with them, too. I completely share your affection and love for those toys.

  2. PS As I pack up my house- after 19 years of living in the same – tiny Palo Alto house – the boxes filled with the Nic trucks and Keppla blocks and German rainbows- flames- rabbit hutches- creches- castles- trees of life- silk play cloths- music boxes- are among the most precious possessions making the trip. My four boys are quite big for such toys- the youngest is 12- the eldest 17- but they still play with the blocks and even the occasional dragon. Those toys come with us to London- every bit as precious as the boxes and boxes of books. I can almost envision grandchildren playing with these fantastical toys. I’m sorry for adding some of my memories to yours- I just thought you might appreciate my affection for those toys.

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