Let me tell you a story. It starts 16 years ago with a turtle and a trip to Target.
I went to college 100% on student loans. Even my apartment rent, food, and utilities were paid for through loans. So when I got my check at the beginning of the spring semester my junior year, I figured out, like I did every semester, how much I could spend each month so that come May I wouldn’t be totally broke. Well, in March I messed up. I had a little extra pocket money from my part-time job in the school library and I decided I could spend it on two things I’d had my eye on for some time: a new desk and a baby turtle. First stop was Target, where I found the perfect desk that fit my budget. Next I went to the pet store. The baby turtles were cheap – $25. However the tank, heating lamp, filter, heat rock, food, and other accessories that I had forgotten to factor into pet care, were not. But I’d already fallen in love with the red-eared slider that fit in the palm of my hand, so I told myself I’d make the money up somehow and brought the little guy home.
I got my turtle squared away in his aquarium and set to work putting my desk together. But when it was all done, it did not look like a desk. The only way it could have functioned as a desk was if I put it over my lap while I lay in bed. I looked at the box. I looked at my desk. I looked at the box. I realized what I had was the hutch for the desk on the box. I’d already gotten rid of my old desk, so I had but one choice now. I headed back to Target, and came home $100 lighter, but with the rest of the desk.
I was now in a pickle. My “little” spending trip had ended up devouring May’s rent. If I was going to stretch out my student loan check, I’d have to get a second job. To make rent, I started working at a restaurant in the next town over. I worked there for four years, even after I graduated (see previous blog post about not wanting to use my teaching degree.) The restaurant was crumbling both literally and figuratively, and each year I made less and less money until finally I was evicted from my apartment and had to move back home. My stepdad, God bless him, somehow managed to get me a job in his field of work, but it meant I had to move up to Kentucky. My turtle had recently escaped from his new home in the goldfish pond in the backyard, and with nothing going for me, I agreed.
All was well and good for the first few months, and then they moved me to West Virginia. And then winter came. And then I was alone in my slum apartment. There was Astroturf instead of carpet in one room and the ventilation was so poor mold grew all over my clothes. I had a blowup bed and no TV, but I did have the internet and a laptop, and one cold, lonely night, I used it to sign on to eHarmony.com. I paid for a month’s subscription and on the third day I matched with John. And that was it. He lived 7 hours outside of the 1-hour bubble I’d requested, but we made our long distance relationship work until we finally moved in together 8 months later. We’ll be married 11 years in April.
Have you ever built a piece of furniture that looked nothing like the image on the box? Ever had a turtle run away from home? Tell me about it at Kate@KateLanders.com.