The Other Path

Anna Drafting squareI got derailed while cleaning out the garage today. I came across my old drafting supplies, still in excellent condition and not too terribly old.

Has it really been more than ten years since I was in school? Since I last used them? It’s been even longer since I was in high school, and these supplies were real, practical tools.

In 1989 I was the best draftsperson in my high school at the worst possible time. Computers were just coming into common use, and although CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) existed, it was only for professionals and certain high-tech colleges. There was no such thing as taking a CAD course at my local tech center. It didn’t exist.

It was very flattering when the guys (I was the only girl in the class) asked me whether I was the teacher’s aide. No…I wasn’t. But I was that good. Once upon a time, I could hand-letter a drawing so it looked machine-printed. I had (have) a good spatial sense that helped me accurately translate three-dimensional objects to two dimensions.

Fast forward about ten years. I returned to college (I dropped out after two years…that’s another story…) with my hubby so we could finish our degrees. We both graduated from Vermont Tech in 2003 with our Associate’s degrees; his in computers, mine in Architecture. It took us longer than a couple of years to earn those degrees. We both worked, and wavered between full-time and part-time school. My box of drafting supplies, though not intrinsic to my work, was a familiar companion through those years. Although most of our work was done using CAD, we were also taught to use the hand tools. Most of my (younger) classmates would do those assignments first in CAD, then print it and trace it with the hand tools. I still felt more comfortable drafting by hand.

We’re trying hard to purge as much junk as possible. I’ve fought all my adult life against my pack-rat tendencies. Most of the stuff we cleared out of the garage today went straight to the dump. Another good-sized chunk went to the garage-sale shelves. Only a small pile of still-useful or sentimental stuff went to the ‘keep’ pile.

And then I found my drafting supplies. Some of those tools were given to me by my father, from when he was a young draftsman. (He’s a retired electrical engineer.) There were two reasons for not touching those tools in over a decade. First, they’re outdated. Very few things are done by hand now. Second, after earning our Associate’s degrees we concentrated on starting a family. I’d already been an infertility patient for many years (another story for another time) and I was reaching the age where getting pregnant would be even more difficult. We adopted one daughter, and I did eventually get pregnant with our younger daughter. Instead of taking the usual just-out-of-college job as a CAD monkey, I taught MS Excel to freshmen in the architecture program.

Coming across those tools tugged at my heartstrings. They were a large part of my life for many years. They played an important role in forming the person I’ve become.

But I didn’t take that path. If I was working in the architecture field, even though I’d be primarily using a computer, there would still be the occasional opportunity to use the supplies, not to mention using them as ambiance in the office.

A year ago, I quit my teaching job. Even though I’m earning very little as a writer, I needed to be able to concentrate on my writing in order to turn it into a real career.

And then my 7yo picked up my drafting supplies and started playing with them. I remember doing that when I was little. Hands-on feels so good! I asked her if Mommy should keep the box, and of course she said yes.

So, I’m keeping them. Not for use, but for nostalgia’s sake.

Let’s hope I don’t get this emotional over the rest of the junk in the garage.


About AmyBeth Inverness

A writer by birth, a redhead by choice.
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