This is a picture of me on the left and my sister on the right. It was the '60s. My parents had moved us from Canada to San Francisco, California. I was three years old.
I have wondered "what I could'a been" if certain things hadn't happened in my life or if my parents had made different decisions. For instance, would I have been a professor of music if my parents had never left San Francisco. Or would we have been killed by the gang that was killing blue-eyed blond haired demons.
But instead of staying in San Francisco, my parents moved us to Salt Lake City, Utah. Then my father decided that even Salt Lake was too big for his tastes and moved us to a much smaller community in Utah. There were very little opportunities for children with talents. I had just started learning the violin. My sister was showing her acting skills.
In this small community, my writing skills began to show. I wrote poems and essays. Because of my abilities, I won several small awards from my writings.
Once again, as my talents began to be recognized, my parents moved us away from civilization. They tried to home-school us. I learned how to wash clothes in a ditch. I learned how to boil snow for water. I learned how to grow food. I learned to survive without water and electricity. It was a hard hard life. It seemed that the parents were taking us away from what we could have been by each move.
One of my friends in elementary school, Cindy Bridges, was also a writer. She became a journalist. Some days I have wondered if her life was my life.
When I finally was able to break away from the downward spiral of my parent's life, I went to BYU. I had a chance to do music. Because of what I had learned from my parents about opportunities, I became scared and left the profession. Part of the reason was because my mother had been in a car accident, which killed her best friend and badly hurt two of my sisters and one brother. I came home to care for my baby sister who almost died in the accident. For one-two months, I would hold her all night as she moaned. I stayed up all night to care for her and slept all day. At this time, I realized that I had to leave or I would become like my parents.
A few years later I made a break by joining the Navy. Finally, I was on track. Finally I was living my own life instead of living my parents' life.
It is hard for me to imagine myself in someone else's life because no one could have the variety that I have had in my own life. I have lived in or near the desert, forests, beaches, and jungle. I have lived in Africa, Japan, Germany, and Panama. I have spoken (not very well) Spanish, German, and Afrikaans. I have seen festivals in different countries.
I have lived in cities, towns, and the backwoods. I have seen honor, love and dishonor, pain.
My sister on the right lost her opportunities too. She was offered a scholarship in acting. A director of one play we were in said that she had the most natural talent he had ever seen. She gave it all up to be in opposition to our parents' lifestyle.
So as I think of "what could'a been," I am grateful for what I have learned since I turned 27 and started my Navy career. I am grateful for the blessing of my husband. I am grateful for the opportunity to go to college and get a degree in English. I am grateful that I have learned to grab my opportunities instead of running away from them.