I was fortunate to have been brought up by loving parents who worked hard to ensure that my younger sister and I were comfortable in both home and living. Dad worked late nights in a rope factory, while mom ran an office nearby. They focused on raising us as strong, moral young women, at times even fearing that they’d encouraged us to be too hard-headed or ambitious. Looking back now, I’ll admit that I occasionally wonder the same thing. To imply that I was difficult during my teenage years would be an understatement. Neither drugs, sex, nor alcohol were my vice, but disobedience, fighting, and nonconformity easily took their place. I had a big mouth, strong arms, a vast vocabulary, and a complete lack of respect for anyone who bullied the weak. Be it teachers or peers, I couldn’t help myself from fighting to make wrongs right. Suspension was an annual event, but my recurring lead-role in the school’s musical theatre managed to clear me of expulsion. I knew my cards and I played them well. But years of harsh reality inevitably take their toll on soft hearts, and by
the time I was a senior in high school I was searching for a getaway beyond the city lines. From my days as a young child, I’d always loved the outdoors and its endless opportunity to explore the unknown. So, armed with a beat-up car and years of accumulated fishing tackle, I skipped my afternoon classes to unwind by the river. Alone and liberated, I roamed the forest looking for adventure in its mossy shadows, and while I found much excitement in the white-water rapids and bear inhabited cliffside, it was the exploration of myself that truly lead me to the river. By the time I graduated, my passion for fishing had drawn a dividing line between myself and the people I surrounded myself with. Late night parties and brawls saw me duck out early so that I could be somewhat rested for first-light fishing treks. Roommates who brought home random men laughed at me as I sat alone on the floor greasing up reels, and I laughed back knowing that as soon as they’d served their disgusting purpose that the same very men would be sitting around me, curious and eager to know more about my craft.