Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Long Way, Baby

About a year ago, a friend of mine read a piece of non-fiction I had attempted that included the following line:


"I was about to graduate from high school, something I thought I would never do."


She highlighted this line and made the comment:  I just can't believe this.   


I had to laugh because my "now" friends don't know me like my "then" friends do, so I can see how that line may surprise them.  But it is very true.  And I've come a long way, baby. 
 
School was never difficult for me.  I'm not saying I was highly intelligent, not at all, it just came easy.  I think it does for some people, and I was lucky.  Really lucky, considering that I attended so many different schools in my life: 20+ and still counting.  But it wasn't the school changes that made me write the line above. 


I was a teenage runaway. Twice.  The first time I was only gone for 4 months. I was fourteen, so getting back into school was easy when I finally came home after that eye-opening summer.  But the second time wasn't as easy. I was gone almost a year, and by the time I made it home, I was 17.  My friends were in their Senior year, and I had missed a lot of school.  Oh, I had learned a lot in that year, but not anything that would ever show up on a comp exam---and several things that my peers would never know.  Thank God.
 

Honestly, I wasn't sure I wanted to go back.  I had seen a lot of things in the previous year, and looking toward the future, well, it didn't look very bright.  College wasn't going to be an option.  I lived with my Dad and we were very poor.  A job seemed like such a better idea at the time.  But I had a history of not choosing the 'better' idea, so I did go back, thinking at the very least, I would get my high school diploma.

It's hard to go back and be a kid when you have already been an adult, and I wasn't very good at that. Luckily for me, I lived with my Dad, who understood, and just stood by me and let me try to be both.  I showed up to school drunk more often than not, I missed enough days  the last semester that it is a miracle they allowed me to graduate, and I was listed with two others in our high school yearbook as "The Best Partiers", if that gives you any indication of how things went.

But I did it, and I got that little piece of paper, which never is far from me.  Do you know where your high school diploma is? Mine is right here, within reach of my desk---and I look at it a lot.  Of all of the bad decisions I made as a teenager, that was, undoubtedly, the best decision I made.  It took me a few years to get my life in order, but when I was ready, that little piece of paper was ready too.
 
I discovered over the years that I liked school.  I liked learning.  And although I learned a lot on the street, it was strength of mind that made me powerful and gave me the most joy.   So I kept going.  And haven't stopped. 


Today, I graduate with my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing---my second Masters degree.  I will add that to my Bachelors in History and Business Administration and my Diploma in Nursing.


Tomorrow, I will start looking at what is next.  I want to learn Spanish.  I want to learn to ballroom dance.  I also want a law degree and a PhD. 

I think I'll do them all.

25 comments:

writeanovelin10minutesflat said...

Inspiring. In fact INSPIRING. Congratulations in more ways than one. Cathy x

Annie Acorn said...

Okay, now I want three short stories:
1. Hoover Dam Christmas
2. Military Homecoming
3. Christmas on the Streets
You truly are an inspiration!
Annie Acorn

debrakristi said...

Is amazing the distance we come. Congratulations Kelley! You should be proud of your accomplishments.

Raine Thomas said...

So proud of you, gal! You've accomplished so much, and I know you'll achieve even more in the years to come. Congratulations on the new degree!

Krystal Wade said...

You brought tears to my eyes! TEARS. Good for you! I was a teenage runaway as well. I finished high school, by the skin of my teeth. I'm so proud of you! Two masters! I think we have a lot more in common than I originally thought!

Loree Huebner said...

Congratulations to you! That's quite a journey...sounds like a book to me!

Congrats again!

Erica Lucke Dean said...

Very inspiring. I'm glad I know you.

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

Thank you, everyone. I am now home and time to face the real world. :)

Anonymous said...

You have been facing the real world for a long time. I am so proud of you, and I have said it before and I'll say it again. You CANT surprise me. You haven't in 36 + Years. Keep going forward, do it all, every single thing that inspires your heart ! You only live once !
xoxo

tmycann said...

Congratulations on every part of your story! :)

Anonymous said...

You're the bestist, Kellinator. Like Mr. Childs said, "You kick ass."

Congratulations, amica.

- Charlie

JKP said...

Alright, not sure whether you want that law degree missy.... LOL Kudos to you, your battle taught you a lot, and for that you'll always be a winner.

xoxoxo

Johanna K. Pitcairn

Gill Wyatt said...

This is truly inspirational. It makes me feel that I can achieve whatever I want to. Thank you for sharing it.

zencherry said...

Fantastic Kelly! You are such an inspiration! :D

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

Thank you everyone. I don't feel like I am an inspiration--I just used all my luck up at an early age. Now I have to work for things. But, that's okay.

D.C. said...

Congratulations Kelly. You deserve everything you have worked so hard for and much more.

Red Mojo Mama said...

Kelly Gamble! You are a wonder. First - now I know where the hot pants came from. Second - I now understand how you became the Guru of Groovy. Third - your dedication and hard work astound me. You go girl! I can't wait to call you Dr. Gamble, attorney at law.

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

I hope I don't ever have to give up the title Guru of Groovy--maybe I can one day open a Groovy school?

rebelsowell said...

If you open a Groovy school, I want to attend. Like everyone else, you inspire me, too! We need to get together sometime and share war stories!
You definitely kick ass!

Tyler 2.0 said...

You are one smart chica! Shoot for the stars sister!

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

Rebel, Groovy school must have traveling classrooms, and the first one begins at a pow wow in Oklahoma. Boomer Sooner.
Tyler, if I shoot anything it will be a clown. Where's my Glock?

Anonymous said...

Go for it, Kelly, go for them all! Never stop learning, there's so much out there to know and discover. Amazing how a person's life can turn around so completely in just a few years. Congrats on the MFA. Be proud of it, you worked hard to earn it, and I'll look forward to seeing your book in Barnes and Noble, and a post saying you've earned your PhD, and another in Spanish, and a video of you waltzing around the ballroom! -Susan K.

Kelly Stone Gamble said...

Thank you, Susan. Now I just have to figure out which comes first...

Suzanne Shumaker said...

Wow ... I can't believe I missed this post. What a life you have lived - and that's only judging from the tiny glimpses you have given in posts such as this ... as you alluded, there is a lot we will never know!

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