The Low Point

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.  All I know is that I never want to be in that kind of situation ever again!IMG_4233

3 thoughts on “The Low Point

  1. When I was in grad school in Colorado, I worked a night shift at Blockbuster Video to supplement my TA’s income for a while, I used an abandoned milk crate as a TV stand for the 19-inch tube TV that I bought, and I had a couch that I bought for $10 at Salvation Army. Apart from my futon mattress (no frame), that was all the furniture I had. I ate a LOT of pasta roni for dinner. Those 2 very lean (yet very fun) years have really helped me to truly appreciate all of the blessings and good fortune that have come my way since. Your Subway coupon summer will do the same for you!

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