On the Periphery

Things change. Life throws us curves and changeups. It's good to have a place to vent.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Today I am a co-ed. Or is that word outdated, along with all my memories of college life? Once more, I am on the periphery.

I went to get my student ID card today, in preparation for starting classes next week. I remember ten (TEN?!?) years ago, one glorious spring day, taking my son to visit the same school so he could examine it and possibly apply. He was not enthusiastic, but I pushed, and he became more interested in the school as we followed the chirpy little tour guide who extolled various school advantages. Even more than piquing his interest, however, I found myself longing to be a student again, specifically at this school.

Well, long story short, my son went there, and loved it. And now, finally, I, too, will be able to call myself a student at that very university. Yet, somehow, it’s different: the feeling, I mean. As I walked through the student union after receiving my new ID with the regulation horrible photo, I still felt slightly out of place.

I am older, wiser, and my student years will not include frat parties, midnight movies, or pizza runs. I won’t be singing in the dorm shower at 3 a.m., nor will I eagerly check the school entertainment programs for suitable weekend fare. Instead, I will be commuting an hour-and-a-half each way, twice a week, to reach my goal, rushing home so I can get some sleep before getting up for work in the morning.

No, it won’t be what I felt stirring that gorgeous spring morning, but then again, how could it be? I was longing for the carefree, exciting life of a student, exploring new ideas, expanding my mind, meeting different kinds of people. But that’s for a youth I’ve long since passed. Of course, I will still be exploring, expanding, and meeting, but by the very token of my “advanced” years, it will be with eyes not so much open in wonder as wary in experience. My children are grown, but I still have responsibilities—a job, a house, a husband, and a dog, all of which need tending. Now I have an end in sight: a degree that will allow me to expand my opportunities for job advancement, along with a personal satisfaction that I can still “cut it.”

So it won’t be the same. It never can be. But on the plus side, I also have a lot more to offer this time around. I have experiences unmatched by youth. And I have opinions, forged by time. My mind is not the gooey mess it once was, sucking up ideas without first sorting them out. This time I will not go gentle into that good class; no, I will speak my mind as I accept new challenges. Not only will I absorb new ideas, I will know how to analyze them, shape them, change them and come up with something entirely new.

So I am still on the edge, the outside looking in. But this time, I am ready to fly.


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