Wednesday, March 21, 2012

From Ohio to Jackson Hole, Wyoming - Slice of Life Challenge

I was particularly moved by Julie's haiku about paths untaken.  It made me think of paths I have taken, which is what this post reflects.  For those of you who have heard my story before, thanks for understanding that Julie's post made me need to tell it one more time.  And I really enjoyed trying poetry yesterday, so I might switch to that format partway through this slice.

I graduated from Miami University in 1977 with two degrees in education; one was for teaching elementary grades 1 - 8 and the other was for teaching LD/BD (the acronyms back then stood for learning disabilities/behavior disorders).

My graduation coincided with the passing of the national PL 94-142, otherwise known as IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act).  School districts were scrambling to comply with this new federal law, so a person with my degrees was in high demand.  I actually got my first job in the same district where I student taught.  I was put into a closet of a room where the only identifying qualifications to get there was a student must not be learning or behaving in their current environment.  No documentation necessary (wow, have have times changed!).

I'm sure you can imagine which students teachers in my new middle school wanted to "unload" into my oh-so-tiny broom closet classroom.  We had no space to separate behaviors or learning issues, and there were plenty of both.  It was a very tough situation and I didn't have the tools or the maturity to handle the situation I was given.  After many difficult issues throughout my first year of teaching, I realized that teaching was not the life path I was meant to take. 

So, based on very little information gathering, I decided to resign from teaching, take my paltry retirement fund (where was my financial advisor with that decision?!!), and move to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  I packed my bright yellow Buick Skylark with all my worldly possessions (there weren't many) and headed out west.

Jackson Hole Bound

Was going to live in Steamboat Springs
with a friend
but she decided her life challenge
would be to work on her relationship with
boyfriend in dental school

Might have hindered a typical person
but not me
still packed my car and headed out on I-80
to Jackson Hole instead
much to my parents' chagrin

They had just paid for 
four and a half years of college
what was i thinking??
nothing more certain in life than
a 20-something who is sure 
she knows best

Interesting choice
Lots of "didn'ts":
didn't have a job
didn't have a place to live
didn't know anyone there
didn't know how to ski
but I was sure this
was perfect decision for me

Even got sidetracked on first attempt westward
ran a red light outside of Chicago
totaled the other car
major damage to my own
luckily all individuals weren't hurt

Some people might have seen this incident
as a sign to change minds
but did that stop me
oh no!

Just a bump in the road
had to come back and live with my parents
until the car could be fixed
more opportunities to hear 
why this was the wrong choice for me
still left two weeks later.

Finally arrived in Jackson Hole
two days later
one of my first memories
the antler arches in the middle of town

Several "dids" happened that first day:
did find a job
did find a place to live
did find a roommate to share expenses 
(knew at least one person now)

Still didn't know how to ski

I may come back and revisit this piece later.  But sometimes the "getting there" is the hardest part.  Thanks for sharing my story with me.

As always, thanks to Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life Challenge!


  1. I too once made a move with a lot of didn'ts. I didn't have a job. Didn't know anyone. I did have an apartment lined up and graduate school planned. I'm so glad I did move from Minnesota to Virginia. It is where I met my husband! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Wow - love this. It reminds me of when I switched colleges against my parents wishes. Might need to reflect upon that in a slice. Love the mind of 20 some year olds - so confident we know what we're doing and others do not. Oh boy, not looking forward to my boys hitting that mark. :)

  3. Miami to Jackson Hole? That's quite a leap. I have so many questions after reading this. I hope you will revisit this and fill in the holes. I have never been that brave to make such a huge change in my life. You are fearless!

  4. I'm a parent now and it is so so hard to keep my opinions to myself. I remind myself that Mom and Dad let me make my decisions, and let them have the same freedom.

  5. I LOVED reading all of this about you. Jackson Hole is one of my favorite places on earth. Nothing like stepping off the airplane to face a horizon filled with mountain crests. Can't wait to see where this idea will take you. . . .

  6. I love this piece! Thank you for sharing... wow I never knew! Can't wait to hear more - especially how the stars aligned so that the teaching world could have wonderful YOU!

  7. Ah! I loved this piece. And I love Wyoming, especially the beautiful Tetons. Yet another thing we need to chat about! :)

  8. Wow! I learned something new about you today. The things we do when are young. I have quite a few of those "didn'ts." Now, I'm curious about how you came back to teaching. Your story is going to lead to a post of mine...when I resigned from teaching in 1995 after the birth of my youngest, I was sure I'd never go back to it. Yet, here I am, loving what I do every single day. :)

  9. Hi,
    I really enjoyed your poem. I came across it in my google search of anything and every thing Jackson Hole as I too am a young, recent graduate who will be moving there with every single one of your didn'ts! Do you have any advice? Any and all tips would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for sharing!