#30 DecisionPosted: July 7, 2012
In the summer of 1985 my High School Class from Port Angeles, Washington held its 20th reunion. Living 3,000 miles away for the previous 15 years was the primary reason I had never attended one of the events. Also it wasn’t an ecstatically happy time of my life so why revisit? But a few good friends were going to be there so I planned a road trip.
The business I had started in Pennsylvania in 1984 was flopping. My two young male partners and I were not doing well as a group to put it much too mildly. I needed to consider shutting everything down, but couldn’t give up. My tenacity never allows that, but my life savings was hemorrhaging. I needed more than a stroll on a beach to think this through.
So get this, instead of staying and fighting and getting help, I planned a two month summer road trip across the country for our reunion, then down the west coast. In spite of the business disaster I was or wasn’t facing, it was probably the greatest trip I’ve ever taken. I was on my own, visiting friends along the way. I got to see childhood friends, my mountains, beaches and lakes and I got to know my little nephew. I found a perfect beach community in Oregon where I still want to live. Nothing beats the dramatic coast drive to California, sunroof open, driving through the giant redwoods or blasting Vivaldi with lights off, winding down from Yosemite with stars overhead. On the way back east I visited an aunt in St. Louis I hadn’t seen since I was twelve. So that trip doesn’t make the “Stupendously Stupid” list. Standing by a 2,000 year old tree puts business troubles or anything into perspective. A decision a couple of months later however does make the list.
When I returned to Pennsylvania that September a friend from the reunion invited me to meet her in Florida. Her college roommate was going to be on NASA’s shuttle flight that November and I could attend some functions and watch the launch. This was at the top of my life wish list. I worked on a budget for a trip to Florida and considered the cost of leaving that dragging business behind again. My decision? There would always be another shuttle.
The next shuttle launch was the Challenger.