(First published on Facebook February 2, 2009)
OK. With Facebook has come the reconnection with oh, so many people from my past. I get these "what have you been doing the last 25 years?" questions. So here goes. I have written this in several installments so when you are done with this one, go to my notes and on to the next. And please, write up your life in a nutshell for those of us who haven't seen YOU in 25 or so years.
After high school I went to University of Tennesse and majored in nutrition, er actually dietetics. But I nevered liked that word because it sounded like I was learning to be a cook. And I wasn't, though perhaps should have. My kids might thank me now if I had. It was a career decision that made sense at the time and would probably make sense now if I had stayed with with (more on that later). But I capitalized on the knowledge that I had so obsessively obtained and was able to be financially independent the day I graduated from college.
My first job was at Memorial Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC. My primary responsibility was nutrition education for cardiac rehab patients and I really enjoyed it. I moved to Asheville in June 1986, not knowing a soul in town. Asheville was not exactly the hopping place it is today so when, on November 23, 1986, a young man handed me penny at church as part of a "get to know you" game...well, I got to know him, and pretty fast, too.
Small world that it is, his name was Matt Barker and he had spent his early years on Lookout Mountain while his father was a professor at Covenant College. He knew kids I went to high school with and we later determined we went to the same pediatric practice as kids. We instantly became buddies as he was the only person other I had ever met who watched the Weather Channel for fun.
Matt had a highly marketable degree in Sociology from Covenant College and was making his way in the world by running a computer graphics company with Nat Belz. Not exactly what my mother had in mind—he pulled in a whopping 4 figures a year, wore jeans and cross country t-shirts most every day, and drove a brown 1974 VW bus we affectionately (or not so) dubbed the rolling turd.
We became best buddies and when he moved to Atlanta to seek better employment (and perhaps that fifth figure), I followed suit. (No, we did not live together. I got my own apartment a stone's throw from the Weather Channel offices.) I got a job working for Attila the Hun at Georgia Baptist Hospital and lasted there a whopping 2 months before I couldn't take it anymore.
We dated on and off. On and we kissed, off and we didn't. We still talked every day and spent every evening together. We were kind of attached in a best buddies sort of way. By fall 1987 I got a job at the Presbyterian Church in America national headquarters as a secretary/receptionist and thinking I was ready to get married. Matt, on the other hand, wasn't so sure.