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After reconnecting, Dalton and I spent our senior year of high school together. We were such a cliche couple. I was the cheer captain, he was a football captain. We were both on the homecoming court. I was prom queen, he was prom king. The list goes on, it’s sick.
With the end of the school year coming up, we both knew that we had some big decisions to make. My family really wanted me to stay close to home for college. I wanted to move 4 hours away, to attend Boise State University. I was given an ultimatum. I stay home, attend Idaho State University, and they would financially support me and even give me my mom’s 2012 Kia Sorento. If I chose to move to Boise, they would essentially cut me off — not emotionally, but financially. I’d be stuck with my 2000 Pontiac that was basically a death trap. The choice was easy. I’d stay.
Dalton’s decision was a little different. He’d been awarded a large scholarship to Montana State University, which was less than 5 hours away. I knew that a long distance relationship would be difficult, but we promised to make our college decisions alone, because that was our future. We were still in a new relationship, we didn’t know that we’d be married one day. He applied before he visited, so once accepted, he finally decided to go tour the school. They had him stay in the dorms. He quickly realized that it wasn’t what he wanted. Dorm life was not for him. They also dug into the financial information a bit more. Even with his hefty scholarship, out of state tuition still made it more expensive than an in-state university. With little time left, he changed his mind and decided to attend Idaho State University.
When we both decided, separately, to attend the same school, it changed everything. It was a 45 minute drive to ISU. He wanted to get an apartment in Pocatello. I knew that if he lived there and I stated home, we would never see each other. Somehow, we decided to move in together. It didn’t make sense to have to pay rent, utilities, and internet twice, just to spend all of our time together anyway.
We told his parents before mine. I was incredibly embarrassed about this. I was raised to think that you should be married before you move in together, but it didn’t make sense. My parents found out and my dad thought it meant I was pregnant — I wasn’t. That calmed him down, and they were fine with it. For most of the semester, I didn’t tell anyone that I loved with my boyfriend of 1 year. I told them that I lived alone in an apartment off campus. I lied to my grandparents and even some of my close friends. It took a long time until I realized that we were young, but we made sense.
Living in Pocatello, I started to become really unhappy. It wasn’t Dalton, I just genuinely did not like being away from home, in a town I didn’t enjoy. After the first semester, we decided to move back home. We basically lived across the street from each other, so he moved back in with his family while I moved back in with mine. I didn’t like ISU, so I dropped out. I had no idea what to do next. I worked for my parents during the spring semester, while Dalton went back to work at his old job and drove to Pocatello for school several times a week.
I knew I needed some type of education to get me by. I didn’t know if I’d have kids someday, so a bachelor’s degree didn’t make sense at the time. I looked into our local technical college. I found a 2 year surgical technology program, so I decided to apply. The next year, I only needed 3 classes to apply. I would take 1 in the fall and 2 in the spring. Thankfully, I was able to pay for these courses out of pocket. I spent hours putting together my application packet. They would only accept 16 people into the program, so it had to be perfect. I submitted it, crosses my fingers, and prayed that I’d be lucky enough to get in. I would only have 1 year of school left if I did.
I remember the feeling when I got the envelope, I was sick to my stomach as I opened it. As I read, “congratulations,” I was shocked. It did it, I had gotten in. It was a very happy moment, that would soon be ruined. My sister played basketball. My dad was determined to get her a college scholarship. They had a work opportunity over in Utah, and they would be moving. Of course, I couldn’t go with them since I had a boyfriend that I loved and I had just been accepted into my program. I was so torn. How could I be happy staying when my family was 5 hours away? I didn’t like it when there was less than an hour between us.
There was no way I could afford an apartment by myself. I couldn’t move in with Dalton and his family. I didn’t really have any friends. I was stuck. Dalton told me about an uncle who lived in a camper parked on the property for a while. This seemed to be the only option. I’d buy a camper, fix it up, and park it somewhere in the field of Dalton’s home.
I’m not sure why the decision changed, but my parents decided that they could afford two houses, so we could stay in theirs. They also would no longer move to Utah, they were moving to Boise. No trailer for me! My parents moved out of the main house, we moved in, and we had two friends that moved into the guest house to help with bills.
I got a job at Macy’s and it seemed like I was working all the time for nothing. We were struggling, but happy. Then my parents threw us for another loop and said that they changed their minds and that they were selling the house. At that point, we didn’t know what to do. We looked at apartments, but we couldn’t afford them, and we had a German Shepherd. She wasn’t allowed in any of them.
We finally remembered that a friend’s parents had just inherited an old, run down farm property. We talked to them about helping fix it up and staying there. Somehow, we convinced them. It was right after this that it came to me — my parents moved to Boise. I had wanted to go to Boise State from the beginning. What if I got burned out doing Surgical Technology? To move up, I’d have to go back and get my RN. I decided to skip all of that. I’d apply to Boise State and go straight into nursing. I sent off the application without telling anyone. This was August 1st. School started at the end of August. I got my acceptance letter less than three weeks before school was beginning.
Instead of moving in with my boyfriend, I moved in with my oldest brother, 3 hours away. I loved Boise, but it was horrible being so far from Dalton. My classes were difficult, because I was taking chemistry and statistics so I could apply for the nursing program.
I sat down with the nursing advisor during midterms. She was concerned about my B in chemistry. To this day, I have no idea what came over me. Nearly in tears, I told her that it didn’t matter, I no longer had an interest in nursing and she needed to drop me from her counseling list.
The next week, I made an appointment with the peer advisor in the English department. As I was walking down the dim light corridor of the building, I couldn’t help but think, what the hell am I doing here?
The peer advisor and I spoke for quite some time about my education. How I went from social work, to undeclared, to surgical technology, to nursing, now undeclared again. I was halfway through my Junior year at this point. We spoke about the English programs. I knew I didn’t want to teach. I wasn’t positive on what Rhetoric was. One by one, I scratched out every option.
Finally, he brought up Technical Communication. I had never heard of it. He handed me a flyer. It was blue and poorly designed. It had a list of different jobs you could get with a degree in Technical Communication. I heard myself asking, “What is a Technical Writer?”
He explained it to me. Basically, they are experts in communication. They learn and decipher really complex topics and make sense of them. They write instructional documentation, business standards, overall, just professional writing. Other than being a journalist, I had no idea you could be a writer in a secure way. I switched immediately.
The Technical Communication program was not competitive. You signed up for the classes and that was it! Knowing I was behind, I signed up for 18 credits the next semester. The maximum is 21. I took all of the introductory classes and fell in love! I was learning about editing, user experience and design, writing grants, developing instructions in a clearly and concisely, and so much more.
The next summer, I took 12 credits worth of summer classes and worked two jobs. One was at a coffee shop. The other was an internship with the US Army Corps of Engineers. An internship was part of my program requirements and I was so lucky to have the opportunity there. Eventually, I prioritized my internship and left my job at the coffee shop.
During the fall semester of my senior year, I took 21 credits. I did the math. I knew that I’d need to take 21 credits during both semesters and I could still graduate within four years. I’m not sure why this was so important to me, but it was.
Dalton had finally moved to Boise. That August, we rented a cute, little blue house together. The bathroom was barely big enough for one person, but we loved it anyway.
We had a friend that was finishing up school in the Boise area. Her husband came to visit often from Southeast Idaho. One night, a few weeks before graduation, we were talking about how our lease was almost up. We didn’t know what we would do after I graduated. I had been offered a full-time position where I interned, so I figured I would just work there. Our friends brought up the idea of moving back to Southeast Idaho. They had recently bought a home, their mortgage was less than our rent.
We looked into it more and more. The next thing we knew, I was quitting my job and we were first time homeowners!
Still, we weren’t quite ready for marriage. What was the shift? Find out in the next installment of our Love Story!