I had my life figured out until my decision to return to college opened up one too many doors. I love the academics, but now I am holding art and literature in one hand and science in the other, cursing the task of picking a major. A few months ago I did something I never thought I would do and applied for a scholarship in Environmental Sciences. My geology professor nominated me, which was the biggest honor of my college career, and so I submitted my application to the Morris K. Udall Foundation with only a 3.3 GPA. Today, I just received by mail my “we are regretfully sorry” letter, but bad news really does travel with good news, for I was also informed today that Yellowstone accepted my application. A few months ago, about the same time I applied for the scholarship, Gwen and I decided to try to get a job at Yellowstone National Park this summer. We’ll be working in the laundry department earning $7 an hour with $70 being taken out each month for living expenses. We’ll be at the north entrance which is located in Montana – New Territory. My friend and I will be taking a car and I think I’m probably looking more forward to the drive up there than actually living in the mountains for three months. To tell the truth, I am extremely nervous about the work we will be doing. During my job interview over the phone, I was asked if lifting 70 pounds posed as a problem for me, and naturally, I said “no”. I weigh no more than 85 pounds. The job calls for pressing, steaming, folding, washing, drying – more than 20 million loads of laundry will have been done by the end of the summer. Gwen and I will be rooming together in a one bedroom cabin equipped with a stove, small refrigerator, bathroom, dresser, and two twin beds. I am a woman of much needed privacy; this will take some getting used to. Plus, there is still the slim chance that there is a third roommate but we will have no way of knowing until arrival day. Another fear I have is the slim chance of taking a drug test. The only thing I do is smoke weed, and most likely they won’t drug test, but there’s always that possibility when starting a new job. I’m sure everything will be fine. During the day when my thoughts drift to Yellowstone I can feel the giddiness, the excitement, the drunkenness well up in my stomach, but at night these emotions turn to sadness, fear, and dread. Above all, I know that this is something I must do. This will be my longest time to spend away from my mother’s roof – at 23, it is probably due time. It is good to know I will not be alone, and although the fear of the unknown has a firm grasp on my psyche, this is one of those moments I have been waiting for.
April 25, 2001