In 1977 I packed up my orange, 1972 Toyota Corolla and set out solo from Boise, Idaho to Portland, Oregon on what I have come to call my “Mary Tyler Moore Adventure.”
A bit of background is in order.
I grew up fully expecting (and expected by family) to marry and set up housekeeping soon after high school. When I graduated with no marriage prospects in sight, I had few options going forward. I could go to nursing or secretarial school, I could get a job, or I could go to college. I chose college. My dad made me a deal. I could live at home while I attended Boise College (later to become Boise State). He would pay for tuition and books until I got married. After that, I would become my husband’s responsibility.
It took me five years, but I finished college. I was the first in the family to do so. I am eternally grateful that Dad was willing and able to foot the bill.
Fast forward four years. I was beginning to tire of my teaching job. I still had no marriage prospects, and had begun to wonder whether I ever would. After some research and a great amount of thought, I made a life-changing decision. I would go back to school to earn a master’s degree.
Not everyone around me approved of my decision. I had chosen a school in Portland, Oregon. The idea of a single woman moving to the big city was unimaginable to a few friends and relatives. They tried to talk me out of going.
I had to go. I had to better myself. I had to live my life. So not unlike Mary Richards, the main character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show of the 1970s, I set out on my own.
Mary Richards was something of a role model for me during that time. She was bright, kind, assertive, confident. She had spunk. She was an independent woman.
Moving to Portland for school was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only did I earn a master’s degree, but I made friends, I experienced life in a big city, I began to grow up. I would not be the person I am today if I had not spent that year in Portland.
This week, the world has marked the passing of Mary Tyler Moore. Tributes and accolades abound on social media and television. Rightly so. Not only was she a great entertainer, but she empowered me and many other women of my generation.
I’m gonna make it after all.
Thank you, Mary. RIP
Photo: Public Domain Images