|Reddy 2 t8k on tha world|
I could have laid my clothes out on the floor last night, but I still haven’t unpacked most of them from my last road trip. That seems to be the only difference between my first day of Kindergarten and my first day back to college after dropping out six years ago. I wish I could say that I was the Bill Gates/Mark Zuckerberg type, the kind that drop out to start their own multibillion dollar companies. I’ll have to blame my lack of ingenuity on that part. No, instead I dropped out of school because of a diagnosis of Leukemia, and what I’d later perceive as immaturity. I left the structured world of high school, to an unstructured world of Playstation and freedom. My cancer was the tipping point, and I could no longer juggle the two balls that I had been rotating from one hand to the other. So now we’ve gone full circle. My first day back.
It was inevitable that I would wake up and think that I overslept. I spent the evening anticipating the possibility, which caused me to not be able to sleep, which in turn, added fuel to the fire. It’s really the thing that self fulfilling prophecies are made of. Luckily, I didn’t oversleep. I woke up on time and instant messaged Katie, who was online and had sent a message while I was asleep. She had just spent her second day in India. I ate a bowl of Raisin Bran with Organic Raisins, which really means that cereal time isn’t as kick ass as it used to be. Anyway, I got dressed and out the door I went. When I hit the highway, I started to get nervous. I had an idea that my class was in a building, but that was about it. I was the second cousin of an automatic, roaming vacuum cleaner. I pictured myself running into a wall, backing up, turning right, running into another wall.
A few days ago, I bought a parking permit. On the map, it didn’t look that far from the rest of society. In reality, I should have removed my notebooks from my bag and packed water and nutrients. On my walk up to the school, I started thinking of ways to make the start to my days a little easier. I thought about loading a bike, moped, Segway, or Razor scooter (like Hansel in Zoolander) into the back of my truck. I settled on the idea of a Hoveround, with a bumper sticker that says “See ya!” on the back. With that kind of intermediate transportation, I could pull up in the parking lot, pop down my tailgate, unload what will clearly be my 100th year birthday present, and burn rubber to the bike rack. The moment that I realized that wasn’t likely to happen, I conceded. I took out my binoculars, compass, and the rolled up Dora the Explorer map. It might have been the second time in my life where I envied Stephen Hawking.
My walk onto campus was calm on the outside, frantic on the inside. I saw a map of the buildings in my periphery, but stopping to study resources is such a Freshman mistake. I have years of college under my belt. I am way too cool to stop and look at a map that could provide me with answers. Instead, I emphatically searched my location on my iPhone, careful to give the appearance of texting, hoping that it would provide me with enough detail to get where I was going. A couple of haphazard taps later and psh, I’ve been on campus a million times.
Have you ever sat and observed a bird walk? They turn their head left and right, looking for worms. I am aware of this behavior, and it affected my walk through campus. I was trying so hard not to look like a bird hunting for a worm. I think I now have 140/140 vision from all of the strain that I put my eyes through, trying to spot things in my periphery. And that doesn’t really do much for trying to look cool. I mean, somewhere between my truck and campus, I lost the idea of what looking cool and collected meant. I developed a smoking habit, sagged my pants, stopped and got a sleeve of tattoos, and walked like I’ve never consumed a vegetable. I was ready to respond to any question with apathy and then turn around and blame the man. I had it down in my head, but my head is awkward. Luckily, I just found my building like a normal human being.
As luck would have it, my first class in six years was in a lecture hall of about 150. I arrived early, picked my seat, and put my bag down. My initial thought was that there was nothing to write on. Then I remembered how these things work. Every chair has a swivel desk. My anxiety increased as I started thinking about the 300 lb man who walks into the gym for the first time and wants to work his hamstrings. The only thing he’s real sure about is sitting down. Well, that was the only real thing I was sure about. I spent the next ten minutes wrestling with my desk, while the Freshman a couple of seats over solved a Rubik’s cube on his. Finally at peace, I sat in class and soaked in a moment of gratitude.
As I sat there for those first few minutes, I had to fight back the surge of emotions that came with realizing where I was and how far I have come, both as a cancer survivor and as a person. I could feel my face get warm, my eyes start to well up, and the relief set in. What I had said that I was going to do, I had finally made happen. I was finally on the path to finishing what I started. Dude, not now. Not in class. It was a really close call. I mean, I would have had to tell people how much I’m in love with Macroeconomics. No, there will be a day for that. As for now, I still have no idea where my Tuesday/Thursday classes are.