A Facebook Game Goes Too Far

A good friend of mine started a game on Facebook with her status update last week by posting the answers to five questions. She answered the questions twice, once based on an age given to her by a friend, and once based on her current age. One of her answers was that she drove a Saturn Coupe when she was 26. I commented back to her about my desire for one as I drove a Saturn sedan and always thought that the Coupe was cooler than my car. I didn’t mean to add myself to the list of people wanting to participate, but I didn’t say that I didn’t want to participate either. She replied back and gave me an age as well, twenty four or 1999. I don’t think she could have picked a more difficult age if she tried. There was no way I could answer the five questions in a status update. I actually asked for a month to narrow it down and that didn’t help. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to turn my answer into a blog post. I am getting backed up with potential post ideas, but to do any less seemed like I would be taking the easy way out of answering the five questions. They are:

1. Where did you live?
2. What did you drive?
3. Where did you work?
4. What did you want to do with your life?
5. What did you fear?

Age twenty four was a year of massive change for me. I had met the woman I was going to marry and she was already changing my life. The year before she had asked me to return to community college and finish my Associate’s Degree in broadcast communications because education is important to her. I had surprised her by also applying to the four year college she was attending and gained acceptance. 1999 was the year that I graduated one school and moved to Philadelphia to start my Bachelor’s degree at the next. All of this means that even the first question was going to require more of an answer than just a simple location, but here we go.
Where did you live? I lived in both Meriden, Connecticut and Radnor, Pennsylvania. I lived with my parents in Connecticut and at school in Pennsylvania. Both places I lived required a bit of adjustment from me and a bit of acceptance from the people I lived with. I had recently moved back in with my parents to save money after quitting my full time job to go back to school. It was definitely different to go back to living with them after being on my own for a few years. I tried hard to respect their rules and space, but I didn’t always do the best job. I was twenty four and thought I knew everything, so there were some stressful times. Once I moved onto campus things were even more interesting. I had never shared a room with anyone, or experienced any type of group living environment. The idea of sharing a bedroom with someone, or sharing a bathroom with six or seven other people made me uncomfortable to say the least. If you have ever seen a college dorm bathroom you will understand. I was someone who enjoyed my privacy and struggled with how to give much of that up. Katie had picked out a roommate for me and we didn’t get along well. A large part of the problem was my struggling to adjust, but we also had a personality clash. He was a good friend of Katie’s, and I think that he also resented her spending a significant amount of her free time with me. I regret things not going better, but I moved to a new room after a couple of weeks. My next roommate and I got along much better. We were both adjusting to living on campus after having our own apartments so we understood each other a little better. We were able to give each other a little privacy and we also got along well enough that we didn’t mind sharing some space. The next semester I ended up with a new roommate and then I became a Resident Assistant. One reason the position appealed to me was that all RAs got single rooms and some even got an attached bathroom.

What did you drive? When I was living in Connecticut I drove a white Saturn sedan. Katie hated that car for many reasons, but I loved it. I loved it because it was the first car I had ever bought from a real car dealer and not off of someone’s front yard. It was the first car I owned where everything, for a while, worked. It was a Saturn and that didn’t last long. It was a sensible car I bought when I thought I was going to settle down. It was also a great little car that constantly broke, but always started and ran no matter what I did to it. The seats broke, the windows wouldn’t go up and down and a million other little issues, but it always started. The only major issue it had was caused by my constant overloading the car, so I never held that against it. Katie hated it because she loves Pontiacs and Trans Ams and I traded in one of her dream cars for the Saturn, a 1987 blue Trans Am with T-Tops. I think she is still a little bitter. When I was getting ready to move to Pennsylvania my father suggested that I donate the car as it probably wouldn’t make repeated trips to college and I might not need a car. It was pretty beat up so I agreed, so for a few months of 1999 I actually drove nothing, but rode shuttle buses and mass transit trains everywhere. When I came home for Christmas break my mother helped my buy a red two door Chevrolet Blazer. It had seen better days, but I fell in love with it. That truck made countless trips between school and home over the next year and a half until graduation.

Where did you work? When I lived in Connecticut I worked as a bowling alley mechanic at Colony Lanes in Wallingford. That might have been one of the best jobs I have ever had. I loved going to work there. I worked behind the machines fixing whatever went wrong at night. I also learned how to drill bowling balls, cook in the snack bar, and change beer kegs. The people I worked with were amazing as well. I loved going to work just to talk to my friends. Some of them I had known since I was a kid bowling there and others I got to know once I started. We worked hard but always had fun, bowling after the center closed or going out to eat at the all night diner. They are people that I will never forget. Once I moved to college I worked multiple jobs. I had a work study job as a tutor. That was a lot of fun, but mostly I sat in a room waiting for students to come in for help. I will always remember one student that had been passed through high school in Philadelphia and had never learned how to write properly. I worked with him for an entire semester and he went from being in danger of failing his English Composition course to thinking about changing majors to journalism. He was brilliant; he just needed access to the proper tools to get his ideas across. I also got a job at a place called a record store. Younger readers may not know what that is, but once upon a time it was magical place where people sold vinyl cylinders that were like MP3s, but played on things called record players. We also sold compact disks and tapes. They even stocked some basic instruments and sheet music. This was after the internet but before iTunes. I liked it, but I worked in the stock room and it was pretty boring. Just before I went home for Christmas I found a bowling alley near school and started working there as a mechanic. It was different than Colony Lanes, but it was good to be back doing something I liked. I was able to help coach kids and the people on staff treated me great.

What did you want to do with your life? This is the funniest question to answer because what I wanted to do then is so far off from what I do now. I wanted to work in radio. I wanted to be a morning drive deejay. I had a talk show on the school’s radio station and I thought it was pretty good. It was interesting and a total zoo and people seemed to like it. In 1999 it was just getting started with my first partner. We had a great time and people listened, even off campus. Once I graduated I worked for two college’s Residence Life staffs and sent out demo tapes. The only time I would get any type of positive response would be for low paying jobs out in the Mid-West. I didn’t want to risk my relationship by moving out there, and the truth is I didn’t really care about radio enough to go out there and broadcast to corn. If I did, I would have gone. Instead I moved home and went back to driving a truck for an environmental company. It wasn’t perfect, but I liked it enough and I got to marry my wife which is what I was more concerned about than a career in radio.

What did you fear? I feared not being smart enough to succeed in college. I had the idea that I was going to a school where everyone would be focused on achieving some type of academic excellence and that I wouldn’t be able to catch up. Anyone who has been to a four year school will be laughing at that fear. I had never seen so many people drink so much alcohol! That was the most expensive party some people will ever go to and that I had ever seen. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun, but some people took things way too far. I feared my relationship not working out. I felt like I was out on a limb, committing to getting a four year degree and moving onto campus. I was afraid that Katie would decide that I wasn’t what she wanted and move on leaving me in a strange place alone. My biggest fear for the year wasn’t even a thought to me until December. I got home from college for Christmas and found out that my parents were getting a divorce. At that point I don’t even know if there was a fear, other than the fear of the unknown. I didn’t know what had happened, or what was going to happen at that point, I just knew that life had changed for all of us.

The next part of the game is answering the same questions again, but from your current perspective. This is a lot easier in some ways, but also shows just how much life can change. When I was young I thought I knew more than I did, but I also made mountains out of ant hills. I don’t even thing my problems were mole hills then. Now, I think I worry less about things than younger me would have. I still treat problems as important, but I don’t think I let the things that are out of my control worry me as much. Twenty four year old me didn’t know to relax and almost missed the amazing year that was ahead of him. I finished my first year at school, became an RA, had a great summer at home, met some amazing people at school that are still my closest friends to this day, and spent even more time with Katie. I think that’s what makes the questions easier, more of a sense of perspective.

Where do you live? I live in Manchester, Connecticut. This is the second home that Katie and I bought, and where we hope to stay for quite some time. Sure, we would like to move somewhere a little less crowded, but we have been here long enough that it just feels like home.

What do you drive? I drive a Chevrolet Silverado. This is my dream truck and I love it every time I climb into it. It is a full size four door truck. There is plenty of room for everything and everyone. I can tow my trailer, haul almost anything I need to, and I never get stuck. My son’s eyes light up every time we go somewhere in it. He loves it as much as I do.

Where do you work? Nowhere. This is the one issue that I have right now. I have been looking for a job since I lost my last one in August. I had an interview last Saturday that I am very hopeful about and it seems like things are picking up, but as of right now, I am still searching. If anyone knows of anything, let me know.

What do you want to do with your life? I want to be a good dad, a good husband, and a good man. I am an environmental professional, but I am open to change. I would like to do something with my communications degree, but being unemployed I am not picky. I feel like one day, if I keep trying, I might even get to be a writer.

What are you afraid of? I am afraid of letting my son or family down. I know that is vague, but that is what I am most afraid of. I am afraid of doing something, or not doing something, or not knowing something, or really anything that could hurt them. I can’t imagine what that feels like, and I never want to know. I can’t even really think about losing any part of my family and that is my biggest fear. Everything else will solve itself.

I keep thinking that is the one thing I wish younger me knew. Everything will be okay. It might be different, but it will be okay. Things change. People move, jobs disappear, change happens, but it will be okay. Just relax and enjoy the good things.

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3 Responses to A Facebook Game Goes Too Far

  1. yceblu says:

    Joe this really hit home

  2. Very interesting game! Enjoyed reading this post!

    Funny thing, too. Purchased my Saturn SC2 in 2004 and it’s still my car today. She’s done an amazing job with staying alive! =)

    • Joe Johnson says:

      I wanted one after I test drove a pearl white SC2! I didn’t have the money at the time and when I finally bought an Ion Coupe it just wasn’t the same. I guess Saturn lost that magic that they had in the earlier cars.

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