At the age of 19 I made what my parents thought at the time to be the stupidest decision of my life, to move to Greenville, NC. I had grown up in Raleigh, NC and was desperate to get away, not only from my parents, who I believed to be quite controlling, but also away from the monotony of life as it was then: the same house, the same friends, and the same job.
But I didn’t just hold out a map, close my eyes and point; I had a few friends who had gone to college in Greenville and my boyfriend at the time lived there with his family. His family agreed to let me stay with them until I found a place of my own, so south I went. I packed up all my clothes and a few odd household things that I stole from my parents and hit the road, my mom crying and my dad looking at me with a look I’d never seen before and never have seen again. It was a look of sadness and frustration, but most of all he looked ashamed. That look chilled me to the bone. I cried all the way down Highway 264, praying I was making the right decision.
I found myself an apartment in one of the student living communities with three roommates I’d never met before. They were friends of each other from high school and already had their clique established, and they made it pretty clear that they weren’t letting anyone else in, so they didn’t accept me very well. That was okay though, the apartment was in a good location, close to many prospective jobs and activities.
Not long after moving down to Greenville, I dumped the boyfriend who had quickly turned out to be a loser. I was a young girl in a college town with no need to be tied down, plus he was going nowhere with his life.
I found a job at the Belk’s Department Store right down the street from my new apartment. I was placed in the cosmetics department, the most high-stress, drama-filled department in the whole store. I was okay with it though; I made commission on top of my hourly pay and got to play with makeup all day, right?