Four Years in the Desert
Young adulthood kicked off with the end of college. By some miracle, I graduated from Bethany on time with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I wanted to go to grad school to become a therapist, but my student loan dept (modest by today’s standards) freaked me out. I needed a job. As luck would have it, my best friend at the time worked in the schools administration and told me about a job in the financial aid office. I did not realize it at the time, but he had just chosen my career.
Over the next couple of years, I would learn a valuable skill and make some of the best friends of my life. My faith walk varied wildly during this time. I no longer felt strong ties to the denomination of my youth, even though it saturated my life. All of my friends were either connected to the college or the local AG churches. I lived in a bubble of sorts. And though I was thoroughly encased, I found a small niche of friends that liked challenging the rules. I was AG, but one if its biggest critics.
When I turned 25, I decided that I wanted to move home. Home meant Arvada, Colorado. I had a plan. I would quit my job, move in with my parents, bet another job and then reestablish myself. I drove the 1000 miles from Scotts Valley to Colorado in two days. I was excited to be going home and living with my family.
I got home and immediately started looking for a job. One week became two weeks and then a month…then three months. It was Christmas and I was going into month 4 of no employment. I started to panic. Then I got a call from that friend of mine that helped me find my first job. He was working at another school in Washington State and as fate would have it, they had an opening in financial aid.
This was not the plan. But I needed work and I was excited to go to a new city. I found myself working just outside of Seattle in Kirkland, Washington at another AG college. This time, I did not drink the Kool-Aid. While I worked at an AG school, I was a perfect heathen. I did not go to church and I did not mix with the locals at work. The only friends I had were friends from my school days at Bethany. It was a very lonely time. With no church and no social life from work, I was very lonely. I came home to an empty house most nights, ate fast food and either watched TV or read until I fell asleep.
Seattle was a beautiful place to live. But ultimately, it was not for me. Nine months after I got hired, I got my dream job.
I got a job at a software company in San Jose, California, just 35 miles away from my old school. It paid twice as much as my old job at Bethany. I had friends. I had secular employment and I was making more money than I knew what to do with. This was the beginning of the best year of my life.
I started off in an apartment in San Jose. I worked just a couple of miles away, near the airport. My job was to give phone support for software that I knew inside and out. From very early on in my career there, I was a rock star. I got to wear jeans and a tee shirt to work. I got to speak to people from all over the country and I got to help them solve interesting problems. On top of that, I got to travel and give workshops all over the US with a generous expense account.
Life was good. I even started attending church again. Out of habit, I attended the local AG mega-church, 4000 members strong. I liked going there because they had excellent music but it was so big that I could be completely anonymous. One of my old professors attended the church and during the sermon, I would play my own version of Where’s Waldo, only I looked for Rich.
Everything was falling into place, with one notable exception. I was alone. I had plenty of friends, but I had not found that special someone.
On Memorial Day weekend, I went on a road trip with a group of buddies. Before we left town, we stopped to eat. There were four of us. Two of them wanted to go to Burger King. One of them wanted to go to Taco Bell. I am normally a Burger King kind of guy, but I did not want my one friend to be alone. So I went with her to Taco Bell. As we were walking in, I was complaining about my lack of a love life. The words were just coming out of my mouth, “I just can’t meet any nice girls.” And there she was. Standing behind the counter at Taco Bell was my wife. She just did not know it at the time. I leaned over to my friend and said to her, “I am going to marry her.” A little over one year later, I did exactly that.