Particularly awesome time in your life

There always seem to be a plethora of negative “why high school sucked for me” or “I hate my job” threads so I decided to interject something positive:

Do you have a time in your life that was particularly awesome for whatever reason?
I can think of several:
Summer camp - Around sixth grade my parents shipped my brother and I off to summer camp for a month. I thought it would suck but it actually ended up being really cool. It was a hell of a lot better than our usual summers of watching tv and riding bikes around the neighborhood bored out of our minds.

1995-1996 - Senior year (and a half) in college and the summer-winter after. Frat parties every weekend. Rented a shore house and then a ski house with some of my fraternity brothers and their friends from their new jobs. Hung out with high school friends when I wasn’t at the shore. Basically just spending my days delaying being an adult until I could find a job.

Spring/Summer of 2001 - Had just quit my job to finish up business school in Boston. Great job lined up at the end of the summer in New York City. Fat signing bonus check in hand. Most people said I should have taken a vacation and gone traveling? Vacation from what? Waking up at noon after drinking with my friends all night to go kayaking down the Charles? Driving to Newport to spend the day hanging on the beach while the rest of the world is at work? Basically just taking a couple months off from being an adult.

My life right now is just excellent. I have work that’s meaningful, a great partner, a nice house with just enough landscaping challenges to make gardening fun, and nice cats. Nobody’s died in a while, the weather’s great, and I can get organic produce easily if I run out of vegetables in the garden. So yeah–pretty great.

Summer, 1985. Had a National Endowment for the Humanities Undergraduate Fellowship for a seminar on “The Lyric Poetry of Shakespeare, Keats, Whitman, and Yeats” at Harvard University, taught by Helen Vendler. Six weeks at Harvard, in the summertime, living in Mather Hall, Quincy House. Expenses paid, plus a $1500 stipend. Seminar sessions from 10 am to 2 pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. From 2 pm Thursday to 10 am Tuesday our time was our own. We had stack access and our own carrels in the Widener Library. There were still several rep cinemas in Cambridge/Somerville (the Brattle, the Somerville, etc.) where you could pay a single admission and watch films all day. The food, when we decided to blow some of our stipend money on eating out, was better and a lot more varied than anything we typically got in our various home locales. And of course, the bookstores – at the time, 26 of them in a one-mile radius, with stuff you couldn’t get anywhere else. I think all of us threw away things we’d brought with us so that we could fill up at least one suitcase with books on the trip home. The other students were quite a mixed bag, but almost all were interesting in their own ways. And everyone felt a little freer to step outside their usual bounds, since we all knew we’d be scattering again when the six weeks were up.

I wouldn’t trade my wife and kids, or my career over the last twenty years, for anything, but for a concentrated period where life just couldn’t really get any better, that’s it for me.

I spent two months backpacking alone through Western Europe in '99, with very little money. It was the best time of my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for a million dollars.

Not that I have any complaints now; I live on a tropical island (this is the view from our yard, which you can see from the kitchen, living room, and master bedroom), I’m young, I just got scuba certified, I have two fabulous dogs and a husband and I love to death, and I have all the free time I want to write, paint and walk on the beach. Our investments in the states are doing great, and we’ll be able to build our “permanent” home with cash when we move back. But yeah, Europe. I don’t care how much it costs, if you have any desire to go, do it. You will never, ever regret it.

I’m in a phase like that right now having graduated college in May '06 and have not landed a job yet despite getting interviewed. Last weekend (July 14-16) was particularly awesome; some old friends from high school and I went to a music festival.

1998-1999

Living on a sweet please-don’t-sue-us severance package and my savings while working on a video-on-demand project documenting Vancouver’s underground music & club scene.

Designing psychedelic visuals, filming bands & djs in performance and in interviews, and editing the show together. Totally hooked into the scene, partying every night with the most pretty and fun people you could hope to meet (and a few complete freaks,) dating improbably hot young girls, and being gifted with a seemingly endless supply of samples of various exotic substances, (“You made those animated loops? I’ve been trippin’ on those all night, dude… here – check this out… You’ll love this…”)

The money we made never amounted to jack, but it amounted to a year-long nonstop party. My Favourite Year.

1999-2000
In August of '99 I started my senior year of college. Got engaged that September and began making plans for an August 2000 wedding. New Year’s Eve 1999 was spent with a group of friends. We rented a limo and went bar-hopping. I graduated from college in May of 2000, and spent the summer working and finishing up the wedding details. Had a gorgeous outdoor wedding on August 12, followed by honeymoon (we were poor and didn’t get to go far, but it was a blast). In September I turned 23, and had a big party with my friends. Unfortunately, that fall my parents split up and that kind of put a damper on what had otherwise been a most excellent year. The good times did continue for my husband and I in the summer of 2001, though, when we bought our house and celebrated our first anniversary there.

For me, my golden age was mid-1996 to 1997.

I was 26 years old, single (with a long-term GF) and living on my own in NYC in a 1BR apartment, earning over six figures working about 50 hrs./week on a trading/risk analytics system for a Wall St. bank. All my closest friends were still single, in town and available for pretty much any kind of spontaneous or planned activity.

I indulged my hobbies and passions freely and frequently: playing strategy games, card games (a lot of tournament bridge), full-court basketball 2-3 times a week, bowling, video games (deathmatch DOOM or Quake to wee hours of the morning)… I was in the best physical shape of my life as well.

I ate out for almost every meal, and lived in an apartment building with a concierge, so all my packages were signed for, including laundry and dry cleaning deliveries.

I proposed to my GF and set plans for a wedding in 1998.

I won’t say it “all went downhill from there”, because it certainly didn’t, but I probably will not see that conjunction of open budget, free time and available friends on tap for another 25 years.

I’m probably in the time of my life right now. I have a wonderful wife, a great job, a nice house, a few really good friends, I get along with everybody at work. I’m not broke. All our bills get paid, and there are some funds left over. I have cool stuff and a place to put it. I don’t have to worry about anything. None of it is in danger of falling apart.

I’ve had other good times, but I never had the kind of stability and peace of mind that I have now. I like it. I’m going to do my best not to mess it up.

College. (90-92)
I’d relive those days in a heartbeat.

Probably the whole year of 2000. I was 30.

I had a job that I excelled at and was maxing out bonuses and getting lots of praise. My companies stock options were skyrocketing and I banked over $100K off of them.

I rented a big house on the beach just north of Daytona Beach where I lived alone and had a fast car, motorcycle, and jetski. I would throw 100+ people parties here twice a year (new year’s and 4th of July). I had lots of friends.

I was in the best shape of my life working out at the gym, jogging on the beach, surfing/swimming in the ocean every day.

I was seeing 4 different girls at once.

I was taking vacations all over the world.

Fast forward 6 years and I’m married with one kid and a mortgage in the midwest.
I had to grow up sometime.

This isn’t the way it works 99% of the time, so don’t try this at home, but it did work for me.

I got divorced in November, 2001. I took a new job with a home office in December 2001. I had my kids with me every other week, during which I’d stay at home or travel locally, and on the off week I’d fly around the country to appointments. In March 2002, my new company introduced a new product that took the market by storm, and my single income was nearly double my pre-divorce family income, plus the main source of spending (the ex) was no longer there.

I also got a new girlfriend, and over the next three years I was able to do all the things I wanted to but couldn’t afford to before. Tropical vacations, taking the kids to Disney World, etc.

Now the girlfriend is gone and the product is reaching market saturation, but I have a stellar resume and people from my company are in demand. I have an interview this afternoon with a company with the same product, but in a larger market.

Lightning strike twice?

For me it was 1991 through 1994. I met and dated my now wife, we got an apartment together and then got married. We were young, in love and starting our careers. Our Honeymoon was an incredible 17 day drive around Scotland staying at B&Bs. I switch jobs very successfully and we bought our first home.
I even had one of my best friends from the Navy get stationed nearby in Lakehurst.
We had many really large fun parties and were always on the go doing different things. I think we saw half the movie made in that time period.
I had a lot more time to be very active with environmental group I was in. Clean-ups, wooden boat restoration, sailing, festivals and benefits. We even felt like we were making a difference at that time.

Jim

2000-2002: they can best be summed up in the words “young and wild and free”
I was 20, with great friends, close family, freedom to do what I wanted, and the confidence in myself to enjoy every second of it.

The past 3 or 4 years has been the worst of times and also the best of times.

But now that the divorce is well behind me, along with the associated stresses, I’m having the best time of my life and enjoying virtually every aspect. Much more than I have at any other time. And I’d never had believed it if someone had tried to tell me before that this would be the case.

High School and College years (1966-1974) were pretty good for me, but by far the most awesome time of my life was November 7-14, 1984.

November 7: I received word that my novel was going to be published by Warner Books.
November 11: My daughter was born.

There was nothing that could top that.

2002 was kind of like that for me. I was laid off from my great job and was trying to figure out how to pay for my expensive Manhattan studio on $405 a week. On the other hand, I lived in Manhattan in a great neighborhood, my GF and a lot of my friends were around, many of who were also jobless professionals and I had a lot of free time and even took a few mini-vacations. Problem was unlike my prior sabbatical, I didn’t have a phat job lined up in six months. But the free time was nice.

Probably a couple of times in my life. I had a great childhood with many friends and was very active in sports and whatever else a child could do back in the '70’s without getting in trouble.

Speed ahead to the mid 90’s (95-96), just before the summer of 95 my first wife filed for divorce. I started working 70 hours/week with half that being overtime pay. I was taking home like $1,700 per week with no time to spend it all. I did that for a few months (right through the winter of 95-96 and had a boat load of money starting the spring of 96. Moved in with two buddies of mine, had a nice apartment, paid cash for anything I wanted including an AMX and a Camaro. Partied all the time, had girls all over the place. Took off work for three months, made trips up to northern Wisconsin and down to Florida a couple times to visit with my best friend since third grade. Life was easy.

Now things are great, got three kids, some cats, a loving wife, a nice home, couple SUV’s, and some stability, but nothing close to the freedom/fun I had back in 96.
I wouldn’t trade those days for anything, but I’m glad I grew out of them.

1985–I was in junior high, and I had finally gotten into sports. I lost weight, worked hard, and discovered a whole new world I hadn’t even known existed. It was the first big accomplishment in my life, and it set the tone for striving to achieve, which hasn’t left me yet.

1995–My year in Korea. My first and so far only time overseas. I had heard horror stories about how much it sucked to be stationed in Korea, but I’d always been skeptical. It turns out that my skepticism was well-founded; Korea rocked. I started learning the language and travelling up to Seoul every chance I got. Seoul, in fact, was the first big city I had ever spent any amount of time in.

While I was in-country, my Korean got good enough so that I could accompany soldiers as a translator to an orphanage where we volunteered with fixing stuff and playing with the kids. I set about learning everything I possibly could about Korea, from the language to the culture to the history. Especially the history. I went from jock to nerd in, like, a month.

Sometime after Korea, I had the opportunity to live and work in Northern California for a year, and that was awesome, too. Beautiful weather, beautiful scenery, and the people were quite a bit friendlier than the small town folks I had met growing up. It really was the Garden of Eden. I started teaching myself philosophy and literary history, though it didn’t go anywhere really. My wife and I actually planned to move back there at one point, but that was before I realized how much I loved Boston.

And right now is pretty awesome, too. I’ve got a great life and a great wife. My job is not the most thrilling thing in the world, but I know that sooner or later, I’ll trade up. The only thing I regret is that I’m chunky and definitely no longer athletic. Sigh . . . that’s what happens when you settle down, sometimes. Someday I’ll get back into it. But when I reminisce about the old days, it’s Korea and NorCal. Good times!

Right now!

Here’s what I have accomplished this year (many of these have been covered in other threads of mine)

Moved out of home
Obtained two unviersity degress.
Worked at a great job
Ran a half marathon
Hiked up two mountains
My brother appeared on Jeopardy (not an accomplishment of mine, but a fun trip nonetheless)
Lost 45 pounds
Released two independent CDs
Obtained CPR and First Aid training.
Getting a free trip to toronto next month to receive specialized music training
And I’ve just landed a full time job as a teacher!

I don’t want to brag but I feel this has been the best year of my life so far!

(cracks open champagne)