Is this how interviews go?

“I’m interested in your story. Tell me about your twenties.”

“Do I have to?”

“No, of course not. You never have to tell me anything.”

Silence. Breathing. More silence. Her mind was racing.

“My twenties were sandwiched by heartache….the first when I was twenty. The second right as I turned thirty.”

“Was the decade all bad?”

She laughed and smiled. “No, and I know life isn’t only about men either. But a lot changed in that decade.”

“Well, tell me more.”

She smiled. “Well, guess I’ll start back in college. I joined a sorority my junior year, I was twenty then, My roommate was in one and we’d known each other since high school. She convinced me to go through rush, that it would be fun and fill my free time.”

“Why were you worried about having free time?”

“Well, my boyfriend at the time was in the military. So, I wouldn’t be dating, or so I thought.” She looked up, a little sadness floated across her face. “Plus, I’d never really had a circle of girlfriends, and I’m quite introverted, so I thought it would be a good way to be social. It would also be easier while living with my roommate.”

“So, same sorority?”

“Yeah, I was given two options towards the end of rush. Part of me wanted to go with the other sorority, but for the sake of our friendship, and knowing another one of our friends was selecting the same too, I selected hers.”

“Was it worth it, joining a sorority that is?”

“Yes, definitely. A few weeks into the semester, things fell apart with my boyfriend, so I at least had something to distract me in that “free time” I had. I was working on top of school and sorority, so I kept busy. Costs for school were covered by scholarships, but costs for the sorority and living in an apartment were on me.”

“Did you date after things went south with the military man?”

She chuckled, odd to hear that phrase as it didn’t really fit him in her mind. “I got to know a few guys, wouldn’t call it dating that fall. I didn’t really date anyone until the next semester.”

“Was there any sex with these fall guys?”

She paused. What a probing question, but okay. There wasn’t much to reveal anyway. “One, once. I felt horrible after. Never saw him again.”

“Honestly, isn’t everyone a set of walking hormones in college?”

“Yeah, sure, maybe, but I wasn’t in that frame of mind. With that one guy, it was more of a get me over my ex moment. And it backfired, ripped me apart even more. So that was off the table for a while. However, sorority life was fun. Got to know a few people, and I even moved into a leadership role that Spring.”

“Be honest, did you party?”

“Of course, we went to the clubs a few times, played pool, formals, even went to a few parties. I turned 21 that Spring, so things were legal for me after that point.”

“Did you and your roommate always go together?”

She chuckled. “Oh, no. She was busy with her own romance, her own life. I still remember having to clean up after one of her boyfriends at one party, though….so glad he ended up not working out for her. He was a mess.”

“You…cleaned up?”

“Yeah, I was the only one sober enough not to add to the mess. It was at a sister’s apartment in the same complex. It wasn’t a pretty night.”

“Be honest, were you normally the D-D?”

She blushed, “Yes, most times. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I over-indulged in college. “

“You ARE a lightweight. Would you say your college experience was typical?”

She shrugged. “I’m kind of boring I guess.”

“So, what about the actual education side. You aren’t doing what you studied. Why?”

“Oh, that has probably more drama than sorority life had for me! I always brought home great grades. Junior year, not so much. I didn’t fail anything, but one professor was so bad, the school applied a bell curve to the grades because they couldn’t afford over half their students flunking out of their first course. Moved me from a D+ to a C+.”

“Really, so, you weren’t a super nerd like high school?”

“Hardly! I had to maintain a certain average for my scholarship….and I just squeaked by those last two years.”

“Well, so you had some changes in priorities? Or something else?”

“A bit of both. Before things fell apart with my boyfriend, I had actually decided I didn’t want to stay at that University. I hoped he would agree for me to move out towards him, see if we had a future.”

“Did you tell him?”

“Never got the chance. I had even had my roommate take these silly pictures — me in my sorority baseball jersey holding and wearing a baseball cap of the team out there. I was going to write him a letter telling him if he wanted us both for Christmas, he needed to come get us. I was trying to be flirty, but also testing the waters since I wasn’t sure if he’d be coming home or not. He asked me once to move earlier that year, but he sounded drunk…so I didn’t know if he meant it.”

“Why did you not tell him?”

“I was going to, but things fell apart. So, anyway, when that happened, I stepped back from making a lot of major decisions. I didn’t trust myself with anything for a while. Although I wasn’t happy with the college’s program, I also had family pressure to stick with it. My oldest sister had a change of heart her Junior year, switched majors, then never finished. I was to be the first to get a degree in my family, so I stayed and studied, but I lost the love for the industry. Each semester, it became worse. I ended up not being able to graduate in the Spring of my senior year — I had to finish my second semester of a foreign language thanks to having a car accident which made me miss my first class in the fall of my senior year, so I was a semester off, and then the same pain in the ass professor from my Junior year gave our entire class incompletes our final Spring semester, requiring all of us to resubmit papers the following fall, well after graduation. I finally graduated a few months late. After all the drama, I didn’t want to get into an industry that made people as ugly as he portrayed in his classes, so I walked away and moved on to computers.”

“Is could this be why you write now? Connecting with those days in journalism?”

“Hmm, interesting observation. Maybe. But I’m not too interested in the news anymore; I don’t have a desire to work in the industry. I still like getting to the root of the story, or the issue, and love to research…which sometimes gets me into trouble…” She looked up briefly to gauge how her words were received. “However, I try to confine research to work, hobbies, and my writing topics these days. My writing is more cathartic for me, some fantasy, poetry, observations, random junk from my head…what we’d call fluff pieces “in the industry”…unless I’m writing for work…and that’s boring!”

“Earlier, you mentioned a car accident. Was it bad?”

“No, not that one. I was rear-ended at a light as I was headed to class. It wasn’t bad, but bent the frame on my car, which meant it was in the shop for three weeks while they straightened it and repainted it. No injuries, just cheese splattered all over the interior. My friend, who later became my boyfriend, was biting into a McDonald’s burger which had some sort of cheesy sauce when we were hit.” She laughed heartily. “It was quite funny to see cheese sauce smeared all over his face, his hair, on the window, geez, it was everywhere. The burger ended up in the back seat somehow. But, I didn’t make it to class that evening and they had a drop policy if you don’t attend the first class.”

“So, you said you worked while in college. Where was that?”

“I worked in the marketing department on campus. It was actually a fun job. I liked working there, helping with editing the course catalogs, and it’s how I ended up in the IT world. I moved from marketing to one of the program offices, which led to me setting up the classrooms including the computer lab and becoming involved with selecting and supporting one of our systems. I even trained our staff on the new system. Some things were definitely mundane…what job isn’t…but I learned a lot and experienced a ton of personal growth. I stayed there a couple years after graduating.”

“So, at the start of our discussion, you mentioned your twenties were sandwiched by two heartaches. What happened which led up to that second one?”

She looked down, then out at the distance before her. “We were together over eight years. But, there is way too much to go through. Maybe another time, if you really want to know, okay?” Secretly, she never wanted to speak about that time again in her life. It was some of the happiest times of her life when things were good, but resulted in one of the darkest times of her life when she reflected on it. “I’m just glad it is behind me and I’d like to keep it there.”

“Okay. We can talk more later if you like. Want to order lunch?”

She shook her head as he called over the waiter.

“Sangria for the lady, and I’ll have….”

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