My misspent youth didn’t start until I was 27 years old. My parents came from the old strict Mormon culture. When I look back at my genealogy, I had a gggrandfather who knew Joseph Smith. But, when Joseph Smith died, this gggrandfather didn’t follow Brigham Young. He went to California and eventually started a company that is still known for selling walnuts.
I had two gggrandfathers who were in the Mormon Battalion. One of them, Captain Jefferson Hunt, was also known for leading settlers to California during the 1849 goldrush. His name is inscribed in a lot of the Utah and Nevada history books.
Needless to say, my family worked hard to teach us their version of the gospel.
I was shy. I was intelligient. And, I was filled with a lot of guilt. My parents favorite saying from the New Testament was “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.”
So I didn’t crack the shell of this life until I finally joined the Navy. And then, all hell broke loose.
I had joined the Navy for a few reasons. One, I didn’t want to become another staid Mormon wife. I knew that if I stayed that I would lose myself. I would not be able to experience the things that were important to me.
What was important to me? I wanted to travel. I wanted to experience new cultures. I wanted to make new friends. The Navy seemed to be a good fit for me at the time.
Two, I wanted to experience life. I had been told for many years that there were two types of people: Mormons who were good, and Non-Mormons who were bad. It was a very simplistic view of life. After being on a mission to South Africa, I realized that non-Mormons were just as varied as Mormons. I actually liked non-Mormons because they lived a more authentic life. Many of them had chosen their rules to live by. Even the worst were living life–true to their inner selves. It was heady stuff.
Three, I wanted to experience things I hadn’t tried before like alcohol.
And here is where my misspent youth comes into play. I was a young 27. Remember I had lived a very cloistered life for many years. Imagine a nun leaving her church. It was very much like that feeling. I was giddy. I drank every night for two to three years. I tried New Island Iced Tea, beer, and wine. I even tried the hard liquors. I had the fun of sitting in front of the toilet god and vomiting my entire stomach contents.
I danced on tables. I threw myself into life freely. I laughed loudly. I yelled. I screamed. I sang. I had years of oppression to get out of my system.
Evenutally, I learned that I didn’t like hangovers. Eventually I learned to take life in small bites and then chew it slowly.