Unlike Langley, where I was a mediocre performer, liked by some but usually frowned upon, I was pulling top scores in the class. I was a top writer, top tester, top briefer, passionately active in class discussions and besides that people loved me! They called me the brain--odd considering few at Langley even thought I was intelligent. I was the class clown, not necessarily by choice, but just by nature and classes were so funny! Even at the age of nearly 35, being accepted, loved and appreciated can never be underestimated. I never grew up from the child who drew crayon pictures to get Daddy's attention. After a while I grew tired of getting laughs and attention and being popular. Alone and ignored most of my life, fame soon wore me out.
On weekends I'd walk the beach which was a mile from my room, and usually deserted. I'd strike up a conversation with anyone I met there or just run around thanking God for creating such a wonderful world for me to enjoy. The beaches were the most beautiful I'd seen--huge, with white, creamy sand. In the mornings, all sorts of sea life would wash up on the shore. I brought a towel and studied there on the weekends, and during breaks I hunted shells for my friends. I had to boil them--they stank up my room.
I'd bicycle to Mexico Beach in the Eastern Time Zone, back to the Central Time Zone, and often I'd stop, remove my cleats and chase crabs along the beach. The beauty and peace of this area was captivating. I was amazed I had classmates who spent the six weeks there without ever going to the beach.
I'd been emailing Angie (from Malaysia) a lot. We were still best internet buddies and she really seemed to care for me. On December 9, Deena, friend and ex-co-worker from Korea, drove to Panama City with a friend to see me and we went out to eat. It was nice--we laughed so hard, just as we had in Korea, and when she left I hugged her and gave her a kiss on the cheek. That hug reminded me of how long it had been since I'd held someone. It tapped lost feelings in me. I began feeling down--classes lasted another two weeks and I'd return to my humdrum life without my friends. On December 12, I turned 35 and my class took me out to lunch. We were tight. I shot these photos that day. The water was turquoise and the sky, violet. I was living in a painting and God Himself was the Artist>>>
That afternoon I got a birthday present---Al Gore conceded the Presidential Election to George W. Bush. Odd, because Richard Nixon announced his resignation on August 8, 1974, my brother's 10th birthday, and our family did not like Mr. Nixon.
Pressure was building. I was doing so well in class that I needed to keep a very high standard. I attended a cold Catholic Church at Tyndall Air Force Base and no one spoke to me the entire time I was there. I received no email replies from friends at Seaford Baptist church in Virginia. I thought they were my friends. I was very disappointed. On December 16 my mother phoned me and said the cat we'd had since 1984 had died. I was sad. The cat (we never named it) had been part of every visit since I left home in 1984. I never imagined visiting Indiana and not seeing her. All these melancholy feelings built up in me the last two weeks, sapping my energy and humor. Instructors noticed I wasn't talking as much in class and even took me aside to ask if I was okay. I told them,"I'm just not feeling well...it will pass".