I had moved out of my parents' house early in the summer of 2015. I didn't go far—just to Berkeley, California, twenty minutes away from my parents' by car. I moved into a student housing complex, a co-op, despite not being a UC Berkeley Student. This was my first time living on my own. I was twenty years old, I had never touched a drop of alcohol in my life, and I'd never done any drugs.
By the transition from 2015 to 2016, I had long-since moved out of the co-op and was living in a dinky two-bedroom apartment in Oakland. My apartment building was situated at the base of the hills, much farther south of my parents' home than the co-op. I shared this two-bedroom apartment with not one, but two roommates—both men, polar-opposite in personality, and both older than I by at least five years. The “office nook” had been converted into a “third bedroom” by the management, so we each had our own room with a shared kitchen and living area.
I would be entering my final semester at the local community college in January of 2016. My major was listed as Architectural Engineering, but I was working on switching over to Geological Engineering instead. I was working almost full-time at a nearby architecture firm, and I made enough money that I could support myself without any financial aid from my parents.
I was in relatively good physical shape in 2015. I didn’t have a car, so I walked and biked everywhere, including to the climbing gym every morning before work. If I ever had to travel farther than was desirable by bike, or if I didn't want to arrive at my destination drenched in sweat and exhausted, I'd take public transportation, which was free to students at my college. I lived under a philosophy at the time that I would never need to own a car. I didn’t even have a driver’s license and certainly didn’t have plans to get one anytime soon—I was a city girl through and through. That would all change by the end of January, 2016, however, thanks to my boyfriend getting a car and taking me on a life-changing road trip. But I'm getting ahead of myself. More on him next week.