Monday, July 21, 2008

Silver Lining

Saturday was a wretched day. It rained constantly, I didn't feel good, etc. But I got to hang out with Heather - always fun - find a present for someone (birthday or Christmas, can't decide) and spend a couple of hours with a long-lost friend. I didn't always feel good, physically, but emotionally it was an exceptional day!

I tend to be a bit pessimistic most of the time, but really and truly don't forget to look for the good in most situations.

This quote really applies to my junior year of college. It was disastrous, traumatic, a huge mistake. And yet... I had a blast. It was academically unadvisable (I basically had to repeat the year after I transferred) and I did not learn a lot, bookwise, but I learned a lot about myself.

Quick backstory: I first went to the college in question because of a boy. I had no direction, no idea what I wanted to do. I'd already taken off a year to try to figure out stuff, and was really not any closer to knowing what I wanted to do. As awful as my experiences with "religious institutions" had been, I still thought I ought to go to a Christian college. I'd visited several, and found them stifling. I heard about one from a friend of mine - someone I'd had a crush on for a few years - and it seemed like it was way more low-key than any other one I'd heard of (they were allowed to hold hands!), so away I went. It was awful! Just before the first semester of hell ended, I found out that my mom had been ill for a couple of months - actually bed-ridden - and I selflessly volunteered to come home and go to a local school. I got my AA at the only school around that was accepting applications at the time (good experience -- loved the place).

Then, for some unknown, and completely bizarre reason, I decided to go back to the original school. (Don't ask, because I still can't explain why.) I wrote off for an info. packet, and studied the rule book. They'd seemed to relax a bit on the ridiculous rules, so I packed up my little car and headed off, only to be handed a "lifestyle statement" that had a crap load of rules NOT included in the packet they sent me. I felt trapped. I signed it, and stayed. That's the backstory.

A couple of weeks into the semester, I was hanging out with some folks, and we joined another group after hours in the cafeteria to play Trivial Pursuit. That's when I met Julie. She was with her date, a slug who I will do my level best to never mention again, except where necessary. A few days later, I ran into her again (without the odious boyfriend) and we hit it off. We were two people who really didn't belong there: we were too weird, too independant, too... well, we didn't fit. At the end of the first semester, her roommate graduated. I jumped at the chance to room with her, and for some reason, we were allowed to move all my stuff before we left for Christmas break. Once back, I encouraged her to dump her abusive jackass of a boyfriend. We held mock faith healings in front of the dorm, staged all kinds of "shows" for our eavesdropping next-door-neighbor/RA (who literally sat on the floor, with her ear to the electric socket to listen to our conversations), and almost got expelled together (story for another time). We were suspected of, although never accused, of being drug users, and our room was tossed at least once. (We weren't -- we never popped one pill, puffed on one joint (or cigarette), took one drink of alchohol during that time.)

We stayed in touch for a couple of years (I did not go back), but did eventually lose track of each other. A few weeks ago, I wrote letters to everyone I could find on PeopleFinder (or related search) with the same name and waited. For, oh, 3 days. "You found me!" is how the first email started. So, on Saturday, she and her husband met me at Heather's hotel in Kalamazoo, and we told stories, laughed hysterically, and caught up (some).

We agreed that while most of our time at that college was awful, we'd have to do it all over again, because of what our friendship brought to us in terms of personal growth and inner strength. There is good in almost every bad time.

lifeboat image source
The other image is from a little collage I made from the "incident" that almost got us expelled.

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