Today I walked past a Subway. Looking at the sign flooded me with a memory that was so vivid, that I felt transported to a summer a couple of years ago. Which sounds weird… let me explain:
That summer, I was desperately trying to find an internship in San Diego. I applied for hundreds, if not thousands of internships (trust me, it only sounds like an exaggeration if you don’t know me) and finally heard back from a magazine in Pasadena… two hours away. Of course, I was so excited about hearing back from someone, anyone, that I readily accepted the unpaid job knowing fully that I would be driving 4 hours a day, twice a week, in a gas guzzling Mustang.
I woke up at 4am to drive and slept in my car at parks in Pasadena (if you know LA traffic, you would’ve done the same thing!) After work, I waited until traffic subsided around 8pm and got back home around 10:30 at night. My role at the magazine was unimportant, wasteful and most people in the office didn’t even bother learning my name. Also during this time, I experienced several painful eye infections that left me with blurred vision and bloodshot eyes. They probably were wondering why the intern was crying in the corner everyday! I remember leaving the internship in the scorching Southern California heat and heading to Subway, my biggest extravagance at the time. I used a coupon to buy a sandwich and a soda and I headed to the air conditioned library where I hunkered down to pore over Anna Karenina and On The Road.
When I look back, I realize how really insane it was that I was so poor that I couldn’t even afford a regular priced sandwich or a new pair of glasses. I was pinching pennies and cutting coupons like a pro. I was driving blind, literally. And still, I kept soldiering on.
I’m amazed that I still have fond memories looking back on that time. Maybe I was so completely oblivious to my misfortunes that I couldn’t see that I was at my lowest point. Maybe I just chose to focus intensely on the positives. Now I’m fortunate to buy lunches without worry, I can buy books in stores and I have a pair of sturdy glasses! I’m so lucky to have what I have. I might never be rich, but I’m doing ok, I’m getting by.Â All I know is that I never want to be in that kind of situation ever again!