I graduated from North Branch High School 40-years ago this month. At first thought it is hard to believe it has been 40 years, but when I stop and think about everything I have done, every place I have been, every adventure I have experienced, I don't know how I have fit it all into just 40 years. Time truly flies when you are having (at least a little) fun along the way.
On the oft chance that my old classmates might read this, I will offer a little biography of what has happened in the past 40 years.
Family and personal life:
My answer, as I suspect it will be for many of my high school classmates is complicated. In 1982 I married a woman who I had met at the swimming pool at my brother's apartment in Orlando. We tried to make it work for a couple of years, and then just sort of lived parallel lives. In 1991, I finally got up the nerve to say, "you're not happy, and I am not happy, and we both deserve happiness in our lives."
Shortly after that, I poked my head out of the comfort of the closet and started dating men. I should have done that a decade before. After a short period of playing the field, I met J, then a professor at Rollins College. In late 1992 we started a life together. In the fall of 2015, on the 23rd anniversary of moving in together, we were married here in Alexandria, Virginia. In the spring of 1995 J was offered a tenure track teaching position at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. I readily agreed to sell my house and move, we bought a home together in Lexington and I made plans to go to law school. J still teaches at UK, we are making plans for his retirement. Nether of us have children. My mother died in February 2017, my father is in bad health and lives in Titusville, Florida. My oldest brother, Dale, is living in central Florida and is selling health insurance. My middle brother Gary lives in Orlando and has worked for Disney since the late 1970s. Neither of my brothers has ever married or had a family. My sister Karen, ended up with the house I grew up in just outside of North Branch. She has two grown sons living in or near Indianapolis. She is married to Peter Potter (son of Mr. Potter who taught at NBHS.) She and Pete have been amazing live in caregivers for my parents in Florida for the past four years.
Education after High School:
After high school I took the classes and passed the exams for a real estate salesmen and then real estate brokers licenses in Florida.
I earned a BA with honors at Rollins College in Winter Park Florida in 1993. I earned a law degree (JD) with honors at the University of Louisville in 1999. I had dreamed of going to law school for a decade, and when the opportunity to do so came up, I leap at it. I passed the Kentucky bar exam that summer, I am still licensed to practice law in Kentucky. I still maintain a real estate brokers license in Florida.
I worked on the family honey farm in Michigan through the fall of 1977. When the farm closed up for the winter, I went to Titusville, Florida with my parents, to a home my father still lives in. As everyone expected, I tried making a living as a photographer. For a couple of years I scraped by doing commercial and advertising work. The thing no one knew, including me, was I hated taking pictures of people - and that was where the money was at. I still take a lot of photographs, for pleasure, and seldom of people.
I sold real estate in Titusville for a couple of years. In the summer of 1980, a friend introduced me to a builder in Orlando, who referred me to a friend who hired me to do doing sales and marketing for a land developer and home builder in Orlando. I worked for a handful of small and huge builders over a period of 15 years. It was interesting work. I was good at looking at a set of plans and a building site and envisioning what the finished home would be like. I developed attention to detail that made me popular with home buyers and dreaded by construction managers. I found the work rewarding and at the same time very stressful. There are huge amounts of money involved, narrow margins and huge pressures to produce a profit.
When we moved Kentucky I had a year to fill before I would start law school. I sold shoes in a department store for a few months, and worked as a commercial credit analyst for the rest of the time until I started graduate school. I didn't work during law school. I was hired to start up and run a legal aid program for seniors directly out of law school. I closed over 12,000 cases in 9.5 years, and along the way built a consulting practice providing continuing legal education on issues in law and aging. In late 2008 I was hired by a national non-profit in Washington DC to work on issues in aging. I work on health care decision making, advance planning, supported decision making, legal service delivery, some income security issues and legal ethics. My goal is to do this work until I am 70.
I love to cook - and it shows. I write daily travel blog. I am active, I ride bikes, I do 30 minutes on an elliptical machine or treadmill six-times a week. I swim in the summer. In my 30's I ran a lot, rode bikes a lot, I finished 2-half marathons and 8 sprint-series triathlons. I love to travel, I have been to 48 states (missing Idaho and Wyoming) and 15 countries. I have been to Europe 10 times - and will go back again and again. I love to fly and have flown on just about anything that will get off the ground (I still want to ride in a hot-air balloon.)
I live in a high-rise condo in Alexandria, Virginia about 8 miles south of the Washington Monument. With J still teaching at UK, we still own the house there. J is here about 5 months out of the year, I go to Lexington a couple of time a year. When he retires from teaching we will sell the house and merge everything into the condo. Neither of us ever wanted to live in Kentucky, we went there because his job was there, and that job (along with student loans totaling more than the cost of my first house) made it possible for me to go to law school.
In 2014 I started having difficulty walking. In May of 2015 I was diagnosed with a schwannoma at my T-9 vertebra. The tumor was compressing my spinal cord, I had lost a lot of sensation and muscle control in my feet and legs. I had surgery to remove most of the tumor and to fuse the middle part of my spine (I am held upright by titanium.) To the relief and surprise of many, nearly all of the feeling and muscle control in my feet and legs returned. 90 days later I was in Germany riding in a Zeppelin. It has taken a long time to rebuilt my strength and stamina - I will never be 100% - but I am doing very-very well.
So, what have you done since finishing high school?