When I was twenty, I headed for Alaska. I had heard that it was a good place to earn money for college, so when school let out after my sophmore year, I headed north. I took a Greyhound bus to Seattle, then stayed in a hostel until I found a ride to Anchorage. That drive was so beautiful that I actually put my book down to watch out the window. I saw moose, and a bear. I saw colors that I had never imagined. My mental paradigm of scope and scale was overhauled. Brittish Columbia--oh how I'd love to go back someday.
By the time we rolled into Anchorage, I had heard back from a company that had interviewed me while I was in Seattle. I had a job, but it didn't start for another week. In the meantime, I used most of my remaining cash for a few nights in the local hostel, but I didn't have enough for the last five days. Food was no problem. I met a man who was visiting Alaska just for fishing. Every night he came back with a fresh caught salmon, baked it, and shared it with me.
But I needed to find a way to pay for the remaining nights in the hostel. (I had a tent, so if I couldn't make some money, I could camp in the woods somewhere. But I wasn't that daring; I was hoping it wouldn't come to that.) I went to a local craft store and used my last dollars to buy a variety pack of Fimo polymer clay. Then I made beads, cooked them in the hostel oven, and strung them into necklaces. The next day I went from store to store asking if they would like to sell my necklaces; I charged ten dollars a piece and they marked them up to twenty. I made enough money to pay for the rest of my time in the hostel. I feasted on salmon each night. I explored during the day. I read. What sounds like a terrible situation--hundreds of miles from home, with no money--was actually one of the brightest times of my life.