Wednesday, January 13, 2010

First Days of School

Here I sit on a caramel-colored couch in the student center at IUPUI…..heart still aflutter from my Western Civilization Class……I feel like I have had coffee with someone whom I had a great connection with….giddy….excited. History and I are old friends….I adore history! I realize that Western Civ may not make the average girls heart go pitty-pat…but in many ways, I am quite the book geek…..and my excitement can hardly be contained.

Yesterday was my first day of class. Running late, I searched high and low for parking only park illegally and pray for a bit of grace so my car wouldn’t be towed and ran to my French 1 class. Although I have been to France several times, French class is very intimidating to me. One can’t “fake” a new language - it is either right or it’s not.

Next up is a bit more relaxing to me…..Intro to Fiction - - reading books like Crime and Punishment and discussing themes of sin and redemption in fiction. (again….book geek)….but I love nothing more than getting into the heads of authors….digging in and discovering what they have to say.

This morning, I jumped out of bed when the alarm sounded……ready to greet the day….and once again……end up late. Excited to only be 15 minutes late (as opposed to 25 minutes late the day before with the parking debacle), I walked into the classroom to come face to face with a fire and brimstone History Prof….. I tried to quietly find a seat, but the room was full. The closest available seat required walking right in front of the professor and creating a bit of a rukus. Luckily a few people walked in the door after me (phew). The professor announced that those who are chronically late will fail his class. At once, I knew I liked this man - - I felt as if I were in a class at Oxford University with C.S. Lewis as a professor or even better, Tolkein. History Prof spoke passionately about the beauty and provocative nature of history….of how it is the story of our ancestors and how irresponsible people have turned it into dull and boring drivel. My eyes tear up and excitement wells in my chest. This is going to be a fun semester.

My reading list is long and I am immediately glad I stayed at 12 hours and not the 15 hours I was considering. As I searched for my books at the bookstore, I selected a used edition of poetry from Wordsworth. Noticing the familiar yellow markings and pen notations, I immediately chose another and then another and then another used edition. I couldn’t bear to have the pages pre-read…..pre-marked. Reading a pre-marked book to me is like going on a date with someone after you talk to his ex-girlfriend…….in a pre-marked book, someone has already noted the flaws, the meanings, the discoveries. I checked the prices-- the difference was only a few dollars. I grabbed an armful of new books and joined the endless line of students purchasing books.

Standing in line, feeling like a pack mule, my mind wandered to my first college experience at 18. Looking at the young jeans clad students, I wondered if they were experiencing the same joy as me….if they were excited to learn or simply getting through college so they can get a job. Suddenly, I felt sad for them.

Theodore Roethke described it well in his poem entitled Dolor

I have known the inexorable sadness of pencils,
Neat in their boxes, dolor of pad and paper weight,
All the misery of manilla folders and mucilage,
Desolation in immaculate public places,
Lonely reception room, lavatory, switchboard,
The unalterable pathos of basin and pitcher,
Ritual of multigraph, paper-clip, comma,
Endless duplicaton of lives and objects.
And I have seen dust from the walls of institutions,
Finer than flour, alive, more dangerous than silica,
Sift, almost invisible, through long afternoons of tedium,
Dropping a fine film on nails and delicate eyebrows,
Glazing the pale hair, the duplicate grey standard faces.

Life is like that - - we can simply get through each day just to get by….get to the next day, next holiday, next vacation, next….whatever - OR - LIGHTBULB - we can discover the beauty in the day……search out the meaning…seek the joy. We can fully experience our days or just live through rote mechanizations.
As for me…… I don’t mind being a history geek…..a bookish kind of gal…..the dreamer who loves her world in Technicolor. There was a time where I squelched that part of me….that girl was lost…..or more appropriately, hidden away….locked in a prison colored in shades of gray. I was afraid of that “fabulous” part of me……afraid that if I was really seen, I would be judged…..and come up lacking.

I celebrate the day when I welcomed her back - - tentative at first……but then running to her in fields of flowers…….jumping into her arms…..and kissing the tears off her cheeks…..locking arm in arm…and putting our bejeweled sandaled feet on the road of our new journey.

Here we are…..sitting in class…..learning…. exploring….. discovering. For me, it’s not about the degree, it’s about being the best “me” that I can possibly be.



Anonymous said...

That's great stuff you just wrote. I want to go back to college now, and sit in that gruff, passionate professor's class, and stand in line at the book store. The power of now. Woot!

Becky P said...

It's great! Thursday, I was late (again) and got called on the spot to talk about Petrarch and what kind of Renaissance Man he was....good thing I read the night before.... Whew...luckily, I said all the right things....and escaped the wrath of the History Prof... :)

It's a whole new world the second time around (true for lot's of things, I guess)....

Thank you for your encouragement!