Enjoying the Simple Pleasures of Life, While Living in a Complicated World

Going back to College-the day that changed my life

The local news at noon was not encouraging.  The forecast was heavy snow with winds picking up from the northwest, and a traveler’s advisory was now in effect. It was the first day of classes and my first semester in college. For many, this may not seem remarkable. It’s especially eventful,  if you haven’t seen the inside of a college classroom in over 20 years. As I stood at my kitchen window and nervously watched the snow falling outside,  I thought to myself, “What are the chances of having a blizzard on my first day?” I shook my head in disbelief and again wondered, “What were you thinking?”

Going back to school was something my husband and I talked about at length, and how it would impact our lives at home. On this particular evening, his contribution  was cooking dinner, and clearing the snow off of the SUV before I left for school. During dinner, he raised his coffee cup with a nod and said, “Here’s to your first class.”

After dinner, I got ready and as I went to get my bookbag, it was gone. My husband met me at the door… bookbag in hand. “Let me walk you to the truck.” This has become our ritual with every evening class. He carries my book-bag and walks me to the truck. As I pulled out of our drive way, I saw his silhouette in the rear view mirror disappear in a white out.

The one redeeming and reassuring fact, was the college  is located 6 miles from my home.   As I drove, the snow raced across the windshield in dense drifts, and my windshield wipers could barely keep up with the frozen deluge. The long line of brake lights in front of me at the exit to the west campus, gave me a clue: finding a parking place would be a challenge. Fortunately, I was able to find a space close to the entrance and as I exited my vehicle and slung my bookbag over my shoulder, I noticed a comforting silence had blanketed the landscape. There were no sounds of traffic, in spite of the heavy traffic just outside of the college. The only thing I could hear was the  the wind and snow  pelting my coat.

It took me a few minutes to make my way to the classroom. As I opened the door, I realized, I was five minutes late. American Government was popular, the lecture hall was packed and as I hurriedly looked for an open seat, I noticed there was a vacancy in the front row. I felt completely out of place and visibly exposed as I went to the front row and set my bookbag down. I began to take off and my coat when a gentle voice said, “Ma’am, let me help you with your coat.” The word ‘ma’am’ got my attention (I haven’t been called ‘ma’am’ in a situation as this) as a student helped me with my coat and handed it to me.  I quickly sat down and wanted  to be as inconspicuous as possible. I turned to the student whose kind gesture made my first classroom minutes  bearable and  mouthed the words, “Thank you.”

As I settled into my seat and took a deep breath, I began to mentally take  an inventory. The professor was setting up overheads for the class, and a few more students were straggling into the lecture hall. As they climbed the stairs to locate seats in the upper section of the hall, I got out my book and notebook. As I looked around the lecture hall, I began feeling more confident and then  I noticed  with a wry sense of irony, I was older than the professor, and probably the oldest student in the entire class.

Mental note:  Leave home with enough time in order to  get a front row seat in class, and consider getting my hair colored.

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