I remember the day I decided to leave grad school. This was 1996. After charging my tuition on a set of high-interest credit cards, I suddenly had $10,000 of debt. A recruiter had matched me with a tech job, traveling the country and teaching Microsoft Windows to corporate IT admins. That job paid $25,000 a year, and at 27, that was the most money anyone had ever offered me to do anything. I remember telling my dad that I would do the job for a year or two, pay down my debt, and after that, I would — absolutely — return and finish my Ph.D.
I have no idea if my memory of that conversation with my father is real, or if it’s something I invented, but I hold on to it. That memory is a key to a set of other memories. Memories of me as a student. Of my friends. Of what I wanted my life to become. Of me, when I was clean and hopeful and full of possibility.
If I start with that memory, I tell a story about my life that is very different than if I start somewhere else. If I start with an accident, or a trip, or an acceptance letter, or an insult, or a promise, then the story changes radically. My story changes. I change. Continue reading “Memory, Change, and Goodbye”