$72, Pop Tarts, A Futon Mattress, A Honda Civic and 2 Ferrets: Things That Changed My Life

February 25, 2016

I was born and raised in Pound, Virginia. Population: 1,000. Deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. (Before I go further, here’s a mini pronunciation lesson. It’s App-a-latch-a; not App-a-lay-sha.) Small towns are perfect for some folks. I wasn’t one of them. Despite being a legit coal miner’s daughter, urban life is more my jam.

Out of the blue came an opportunity to move to Louisville, a city I had been in love with for years. A room opened up at the Rocket House- a Victorian home owned by Jon Cook of the band Crain. The most punk rock address in the city.

Rent was $165 a month and I had to be moved in within two weeks.

I didn’t have $165.

I said I’d take the room.

I raced back home and asked my mom for the $165 for rent. She surprisingly said yes and the deal was done. I didn’t have a job in Virginia or Louisville. I had no money. I was 19 years old and owned a car, books, clothes and two ferrets named Cubby and Rin.

And I was moving to Louisville in two weeks.

Those two weeks flew by. I said farewell to friends and family. I tearfully left my high school sweetheart. I packed what little I owned into my decade old Honda Civic.

My mom had given me my $165 rent, plus $72 cash and two bags of groceries with Pop Tarts, ramen noodles, hot chocolate mix- all staples of a 19 year olds diet.

That’s all I had.

I drove away. I don’t remember being scared. I remembered wanting to feel like Mary Richards, the iconic TV character played by Mary Tyler Moore. I wanted to throw my hat into the air just like her and capture her zeal and spirit.

Like Mary, I wanted to make it after all.

I found my first job within 12 hours of leaving home.

Fast forward 21 years. I worked a lot of jobs to get by. I earned two college degrees. I fell on my ass just as many times as I triumphed, if not more.

More often than not, I’ve had to say yes to things I wasn’t sure I knew how to pull off.

I made it work.

Like Mary, I made it after all.

Times when I have fear or doubt now, I take myself back to those two weeks I had before my move. I can still smell the air the day I left. I can see in my mind those few bags of groceries wedged beside a ferret cage.

I picture my 19 year old self and silently ask her what she would do.

She tells my 40 year old self to give fear the finger and get to work.

Is there something you’re ready to get work on? Fear keeping you from taking the first steps? Let’s talk. Helping folks get off the sidelines is one of my specialties.