If you were writing a book about your life, what would the title be?

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Growing up in the mountains shaped me and taught me valuable life lessons. I learned to enjoy solitude without feeling lonely, and I gained the confidence to rely on myself for support. I found solace in nature, especially through hikes in the forest, which rejuvenated my spirit and helped me navigate the challenges of adolescence. However, growing up in a divided blended-family, I found little comfort from my siblings or parents. My parents owned a nightclub bar called The Velvet Garter Saloon, which was the heart of our small mountain community. When the local mill shut down, despair spread through the town, and those who could left in search of better opportunities. Those who remained drowned their sorrows in alcohol, perpetuating a cycle of brokenness and depression. Despite this environment, I earned money for soda pop and video games by working at the club. I often found myself sweeping around the intoxicated patrons and collecting used cocktail napkins. The club was also a place where I had my first unpleasant experiences, including witnessing explicit behavior and being subjected to harassment. It was where nomadic musicians played weekend gigs, often staying overnight at our residence without realizing it. The club introduced me to drugs, violence, and sexual encounters, while my parents were absent, consumed by the demands of the business. Despite the chaos, I attended school and found solace in nature, spending my free time fishing and hiking. As time passed, I grew closer to the mountains, finding peace and encountering various wildlife. Eventually, I realized that adulthood was upon me, and I graduated from high school with my mother in the audience, as my father was working at the club. The day after graduation, I left town with all my belongings in a suitcase, not looking back as I drove away. I wanted to escape the trapping nature of the mountains that had ensnared so many others.

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