Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Beginning of an Era

I thought I'd failed it.

I flunked, the words repeated in my head. I flunked, I flunked, I flunked.

I wasn't going to pass the exam. I wasn't going to get into graduate school. I wasn't going to have a career or ever escape the house that had brought me embarrassment and misery and my violent rendezvous with death.

But that isn't how things are actually going to go.

The envelope came in the mail with two very simple words: 86th percentile.

I hadn't just gotten through the thing. I'd scored higher than almost 90% of the people who'd taken the test nationwide.

And I'm in.

On August 25, I will commence classes at the delightful little school--Mountain University--pictured above, and in two years I will conclude those classes with a master's degree in education. After that, I've decided: I'm headed north. Our Family has resided in Southern State for the last four hundred years. Well, it's been a cool four centuries. But I'm me.

"Yes, yes, come to Northern State!" a blogging friend encouraged me by text.

"Get up here!" chorused a college buddy who teaches in the City of Fate. "I'm so happy that you're doing this."

I've been fascinated by the Snowstorm region since I was a teenager, and why shouldn't I pursue my dreams? I'm having this marvelous revelation that life can be a thing you enjoy.

"I wonder what the North will be like?" I mused to Black Dress Girl between sips of iced coffee. "I've never really been there."

Because let's face it, the City of Fate is a region unto itself.

"People up there are generally nicer," she said. "And better educated. It's kind of refreshing. But don't expect me to visit you in the winter. I am not even about that."

After the teaching career, of course, comes the second teaching career: a high school position is just a stepping stone on the way to a college professorship in history. That will take a doctorate, which I hope Northern State's outstanding universities will prove helpful in furnishing. But we have to take one step at a time.

So the blogger you met as a college student will soon be a college student once more. And this graduation will be a world removed from the last one.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Things Recovered

"Oh, my God!" the young woman with the glossy black hair exclaimed. "I haven't seen you in forever-o!"

"I know-o!" I responded, my voice contorted into the absurd Spanglish dialect we'd perfected as our own. "I cannot believe it-o!"

"Oh, my gosh, BB, how long has it been?"

"Years. At least two years."

"I think it's been longer than that."

The last time I'd seen Peruvian Girl was while I was attending Major University, but the intervening time had done nothing to dampen a familiarity that we quickly resumed as we strolled in the park, clutching our coffees to our chests and raising our hands against the light summer rain.

College brought many wonderful new friends, but Peruvian Girl was one of the few who predated my university years, a girl who knew me when BrightenedBoy was truly a boy, eighteen and innocent and with a world of hurt ahead of him.

Before long we were reminiscing about the same stories we'd gone over a dozen times before--"and then your brother left me in the woods"--and sharing the inevitable details of siblings growing and lives changing.

"My sister is graduating from college this fall, and my brother will be eighteen in September! How did this happen? BB, you were seventeen when we met."

Time has dealt us both some blows, hers in the form of a breakup and mine in the form of a breakdown, and both our bodies and our achievements have fallen short of the ambitions we had for them. She's twenty-four years old and once again living with her parents; I'm twenty-six years old and in the same position. We were both once substantially more attractive than we are now and we both feel it.

"We are each carrying a little chub," she noted, making an observation I would have permitted very few people to make. She clutched her stomach. "I used to be so skinny."

When she learned how my new bulge had come about, tears welled in her eyes.

"BB, I don't know what I would have done if someone had called me or I'd seen it on Facebook. Did you really almost die?"

But in between bemoaning what we were and what we failed to be, there were bright glimmers of something very different.

"I think I'm going to go back to school and finish my degree," she said. "My mother says I'm too old, but what does she know? I'm twenty-four. I can't work in a restaurant the rest of my life."

"That's funny," I said. "Because I'm starting graduate school this fall. To be a teacher."

"BB, that is so great!"

"And you know, we're both going to be hot again."

"Oh, I know-o. I started hitting the gym today."

Peruvian Girl knew me before, before my own mind betrayed me and I came unmoored in a spiral of death and drinking and mania. She knew me before I stopped being me for a little while. And her unblinking faith in the sweet, beautiful BB of yore, the one she met and grew to love, reminded me both of what I was and what I could be.

I'm still that person. As I move forward with a boy's spirit wedded to an adult's experience and, yes, wisdom, I can shine as bright as I ever did and maybe even brighter. In the mail there's a graduate entrance exam application that holds my future. In my new phone there's an app that tracks my weight every single day, counting down the forty-five pounds I have to lose by January 1, 2015. Twenty miles to my west there's a school where my career will begin.

I did not die at twenty-five. And my life is far from over.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Damn you
Damn me
This thing is such a vicious cycle
And it's so obvious it's not love

But it's love in the moment
Of the moment
Of the way you make me feel
Of the way there's only glittery you
When there's only glittery you

My absence ends you
Your presence decays me
And what I hate the most isn't what you do to me
But what you make me do to myself

I know it even as my lips touch yours
That I'll regret you when we're done
You're the worst of me
I'm the best of you

I'm the end-all-be-all
So much more extraordinary than what I let you tell me I can be
But I'm addicted to the way you whisper your lies
And even in my best moments I wonder if they might be truths

That my soul is a mediocre flash of broken light
That I was made for only one moment
That I was doomed from the start
That I'll never be beautiful again

One day I will take you in triumph
Wrap you in my arms
Lean in and whisper
"I won."