When they did, I went 30 miles east to the Cascade Foot Hills along the beautiful Skykomish River off of Highway 2 in Gold Bar, Washington. Not many people have heard of it, because it's one of those towns you blink on a road trip & you've missed it. This is where the main pinnacles of life came to fruition for me as a child & partly as an adult.
My grandpa was the greatest thing to a father figure, he taught me most of what I know today & am grateful for every bit of it. When no one else could he was there to show me how to tie the laces on shoes, ride a bike, throw a baseball, one of my favorites was fishing. Most importantly, my grandpa was a great example of someone who could work. Now when I say work, he wasn't a paperwork all nighter guy, or a tool set & car guy, he was kind of something different. For years, I looked up in the sky to see a man who was never afraid of anything.
This man was a logger by trade, excavator on the side, fisherman all at the same time (literally).
I've seen him stop a back hoe, put his climbing gear on to clear a wind fall 60 feet up, & stop for a smoke break to yell down how to reel in a fish, while I was standing on back deck of a cabin sitting river front. I could write a book about all that, but anyway, later on in life I'd remember this to pursue my career.
As a teenager, I fell into a drug addiction to try to escape memories of a not so pleasant city life.
By16, I'd seen more trauma than most adults would be able to cope with normally. By the time I was 19, I'd combined a drug habit with a equally as deadly alcohol recipe. When I was 20, I'd overdosed twice, been to jail three times due to my self affliction & I had no idea how this would impact me in the future, because I didn't really care.
It took me a full year to recover from almost a 10 year addiction. It was a full year & more after my mother died in a horrific accident that I was fully done. I had to start over. The only family still willing to help was my Grandparents. They played a big part in my recovery & still do. My grandpa put me to work helping the community with extensive yard work & landscaping. My Grandma talked with me & made sure I wasn't going to relapse. I did a couple time when I came back to the city, that's not her fault though.
After awhile I left Pennsylvania to branch out on my own & gained my first job with a company there. I worked a full time summer job as a janitor & ran a machine that cleaned the floors. When that was over, it was time to come back home. A short while afterwards I ran into a man called John Williams in Snohomish, WA. His recruiter for sign wavers showed me one of the training videos & I saw a guy flipping the sign around & doing all this amazing stuff. That's when I looked at her & said "I can do that." She replied, "Sure you can!" enthusiastically, but I could sense the doubt. After a near broken sign & a lot of embarrassment I was doing that! I'd become a pro.
For the first time, I'd felt true pride & accomplishment, in myself. I took this confidence on to other jobs, back around to Liberty Tax office in Everett. I'm writing all this before I start my shift at 1pm, & I've gained even more skills from working here as well. I feel it when people honk at me, or give me a thumbs up that for once I'm actually good at something. Even though it's temporary, this job is the highlight of my year, & is a strong contribution on have almost 4 years clean from drugs.
Now I have a child on the way that I'm super excited about, but scared for at the same time. I don't feel entirely secure with our situation right now, but feel that somehow everything will fall into place.
Author: Michael Chenoweth
Bio: My Name is Mike, & I grew up part time in the city of Everett & part time in a small river town called Gold Bar both located in WA. Growing up wasn't easy, but I did the best with what I had. Situations got rough, & finances were tight, & my dad was never really around. This meant it was mostly up to me to make decisions even if this meant making a lot of mistakes. Me & my mother lived in a low income apartment complex after jumping around from living with friends for the first few years of my life. The lighter note is that the complete opposite was always waiting for me with my family in the "Valley"