I was not what anyone would call a huge fan of high school, so graduation day was a relief. The future, I thought, could only be better, and I was putting all of my hopes into one thing: college.
Oh, how I longed to go off to college. I had this dreamy, kooky idea of what it would be like, mostly cobbled together from random, glossy college brochures I'd been collecting. You know the ones with the guys throwing frisbees on the verdant lawns and the wholesome-looking girls strolling to class, the ivy-covered brick buildings hovering in the background.
I had read and loved The Great Gatsby in high school. I didn't like it for the crazy, over-the-top parties or the moony devotion Gatsby had for that flake Daisy. What grabbed me was the self-made thingy Gatsby had going on--how he'd shed his old self and embraced a new persona. Forget the crummy, poor, country boy James Gatz. Enter: the suave, pink-suited, Robert Redfordy millionaire: Jay Gatsby.
Here was what 18 year old Me--who had struggled with shyness and angst and nerdiness and a painful lack of social graces--thought, as I was about to embark on my journey to a college 1250 miles away: They don't know me there. I can remake myself and be brighter and funnier and smarter and friendlier. I can be anything I want, do anything I want.
Join a sorority.
Be in a play.
|Here I am as one of the children in A Childen's Hour|
Make friends! Study! Read! Write! Learn! Expand my horizons!
Cut to: graduation.
As the day loomed closer, I was terrified. What if nothing else of consequence ever happened to me again? How could new friends or new experiences top what were basically the best four years of my life?
I knew what a great gig college was. The cool classes. The interesting people. The lack of responsibilities (except for laundry, I rarely did anything to take care of myself.) Even the food wasn't that bad.
College was my home. It was where I grew up. Okay, I hadn't become the perfect, sparkly self I had imagined I could be. Truly, I was still kind of a mess. But I liked myself better. And it wasn't an act--that new, one-step-closer-to-a-better-me Me.
I walked around in a daze that day, choking back tears. Oh, well, I thought. It was good while it lasted, even if it will never be THIS good ever again.
I was wrong...