Since I live near a community college here in Bellevue and it stands between me and my weekly meetings with my case manager, I often find myself walking through the campus and can't help but flash back to my college days.
When I think of my college days, I invariably think of my brother and sister's days as well. My sister's many boyfriends and girlfriends who would carouse the bars and clubs and games and events. My brother sneaking in at 4 am, making strange art projects, my dad finding pot in the car, his drunk shenanigans and funny stories, and then there's me. My recollection of college comes mostly from a corner in a library, where I would find a place to study or from an empty parking lot at UMBC. When I wasn't in class, I was dreading the long commute there. Most times, I envied my brother and sister because they seemed to be having a good time at college while I was miserable, eating my lunch in the bathroom, working in the stock room of a hardware and lumber store and spending my nights drawing pictures(this was before facebook) and watching strange art house films.
Flash forward years later. I eventually did go back and at least finish a certificate although the college experience was pretty sedate. I went to Hagerstown Community College and took half of a course load of graphic design classes for a few years. I made a few acquiantances there. Drank coffee with a few friends. Had a few utterly bizarre and clumsy dates but then college ended and life went on. If you knew Hagerstown, this isn't surprising. It's still a small town in Western Maryland that closes down at 5 every day. The main attraction is the Dairy Queen and the Valley Mall(not the vibrant downtown as the tourism industry wants to sell you). My exciting list of things to do included riding my bike, reading various things, from time to time, going to the new art or poetry opening and sitting at home, cooking and watching weird art house movies.
So there I was, walking through the college in Bellevue again, except even more time has passed. My sister now has a kid. My brother stopped smoking and goes to sleep at normal hours now. It's been five years since I've been in college and I realise more and more that life is pretty open-ended.
I can't read minds but I see the boy walking by himself and realise that could be me. I see a group of girls that reminds me of my sister and I suddenly realise I am quite older and quite different and all of this is OK.
The kids at school are really into fashion. Into cliques. Into identifying themselves. It's terribly superficial because as we grow older we realise how much more complicated we are than our likes and dislikes and sexual preference and religion and job. We realise how nobody really knows what they are doing.
I still worry quite alot about being weird and asocial and introverted and wanting to sit at home and cook. I can definitely get into ruts and fear change quite a lot. I still feel like an alien amidst people and think I always will. Hopefully I will learn to be more accepting of how I am and how my brother and sister and everyone else is and realise that college and life is not at all like how I thought it would be.