I have always been pretty impulsive. I am not one to study and evaluate a situation. I mostly just plunge right in. Full steam ahead, Taking that kind of approach can get you into trouble. But it can also lead to great adventures.
During the summer of 1966 I was working in Zion National Park, in the snack shop. My friend Tauna Lyman was working as a waitress. We spent many of our off hours talking about school and what we wanted. Neither one of us really wanted to continue in College. We felt that we were spinning our wheels. What was college doing for us? I felt that continuing in school would not do anything for me that just getting a good job could not. I thought all I needed was a change of scene and new opportunities. I felt stifled in Cedar City. I wanted new horizons.
We had worked the previous year with two brothers from California. Tauna really liked one of them. He was now on a mission and would be home the next year. She had been writing to him and she wanted to go to California so she could be there when he came home.
The decision to go to California was made. She contacted his Mother, Mrs. DeGraw and she agreed to let us stay at her home until we could find jobs and an apartment. I was along for the ride. Tauna came to my house to live after school started for a couple of months and then she left to go live with her sister. We had made plans to leave after Christmas 1966. Tauna was gone and I continued on with our plans.
I am sure my parents thought I would abandon this crazy plan. But they did not really try to change my mind. I think they were of the opinion that I needed to make my own choices and suffer the consequences. We thought it would be romantic to take the train and then we could take more luggage. We would need things to help set up an apartment. I purchased two tickets for three days before New Years Eve. I was starting to get a little antsy because I had not heard from Tauna for several weeks. But she did show up just before time to go.
In order to get the train we had to go to Minersville which is northwest of Cedar about 40 miles. The train was scheduled for 11pm. My Dad drove us to Minersville. Remember this was the middle of winter. When we got there we discovered that the train would be late, hours late. Too late to go back home and then come back. Dad unloaded our luggage and left. There we were in a very small train station which was not very warm in a very small town, where there was nothing open, and it started to snow, hard.
Somehow we managed to wait and the train finally came and we were on our way. It was still very dark but I was mesmerized by the silent night. At some point I saw a Christmas tree all lite up out in the middle of a field. The train stopped in Las Vegas. Then we continued on toward California.
Mrs. DeGraw and her son Danny met us at the train station and we were in sunny California. She was so kind to us. In looking back we were really asking a lot of her. She was a widow supporting her son on a mission and here come two silly girls from Utah. I don’t know if she was really aware that Tauna was hoping to marry her son. She drove us around and Danny seemed to like spending time with us. Since it was New Years Eve we went to a Singles party at the Stake house. I was beginning to realize it was not going to be as easy as we thought to get around. Neither one of us had a car and public transportation was not very good.
We finally found a furnished apartment, but it was not as easy to find a job as we thought. It was not as easy to go to Church on Sunday ether. We had to depend on Mrs. DeGraw to take us everywhere.
I finally found a job with a pharmaceutical shipping warehouse. I stood at a long tub pulling IBM punch cards that represented drug orders for hospitals and pharmacy’s. One of the girls lived close to me and offered to be my transportation to work and back. Another one of the girls offered to introduce me to her boyfriends brother. He had a masters degree in accounting from UCLA and had a real job. I thought all my dreams had come true.
His name was Wes Harder, He was tall, dark and handsome. I thought I had hit the jackpot. He liked me right away. Work was going well, I had a very attentive boyfriend and I was in California.
But all fairy tails have to come to an end. The rest of the story is not always happy. Life gets in the way. I found myself drifting away from the Church. Wes was not interested in being a Mormon, and since I didn’t have my own transportation it was hard to get to meetings on my own. He asked me to marry him and then it seemed that he started pulling away. He started talking about how HE wanted to move to upstate California and HE wanted to do this and HE wanted to do that. But somehow it seemed to me that I was not included in his plans. I got my feelings hurt.
Tauna and I had a big fight and I moved out and got my own place. We lost touch. I finally heard that she married Danny DeGraw. I broke it off with Wes and called my parents and moved back to Utah.
As I look back on those years I realize that going to California and the decisions I made there have colored my life forever. I had drifted away from the gospel. I tried to hold on but I was really not fully engaged. It was not until I met and married Jim that together we have been able to work on our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Together we have strengthened our testimonies and understanding of our purpose here. Unfortunately our families have suffered. But isn’t that the part of why we are here? To make mistakes and learn and repent and make more mistakes and repent and strive to do better? I learned a lot from my wild child years. I am grateful for the opportunity.