Wednesday, January 21, 2015

first





The hallway is crowded with students, most dressed in jeans and sweatshirts.  I’m leaning against a wall and tapping this on my phone’s notepad waiting for the professor of my first class to show up.  Davies Hall is a three-storey building and we students are choking the hallways of the second (this includes me, the 52 year old).  Doors open one by one; the grey industrial carpets are clearing, feet entering classrooms and exiting students heading for the stairs.  The exchange is quick; a rhythm similar to passengers on an elevator.

Our class is the only one waiting for our professor.  I love my fellow students already.  They look nerdy, comfortable with silence; intent on being here. 

I contemplate sitting in the back of the class, hoping to observe the classroom and learn how it works for the first couple of weeks.  My thoughts are disrupted by a voice coming down the hallway:

“I’m here,” he says.  I look up and see a man: fit, but limping and using a cane.  “I’m sorry I’m late. I’ll eventually get here, thanks for your patience.”  

I recognize the face as my first instructor, Professor Rudy Pearson – the one who will instruct us in American History (one of the honors courses I have).

Class is an eye-opening hour.  The professor seems like one I’d genuinely enjoy – one who has even been to Africa.  The students took turns introducing themselves – we are all from different walks of life.  I can’t help but feel old – the average age is about 26. 

My second class is downstairs and I end up waiting in the hallway again.  This time, I recognize a young girl from my history class and we start talking.  She is the mother of a seven month old daughter.  She shows me pictures of her baby, who she “hated leaving today” – and I show her pictures of Scarlett Star, my granddaughter who is the same age.  We talk about family until class opens.

Our Political Science teacher is maybe forty and is already acting, well, eccentric.  She takes roll then introduces herself and hands out a syllabus.  She sits on top of her desk and swings her legs beneath her as she tells us her opinion of honors education.  Fifteen minutes into class she drops her first f-bomb and I can’t help but laugh.  There is a lot of colorful language from her and it makes me wonder what’s in store for us this semester.

The students all seem used to the idea that the first day of class involves  the instructor introducing themselves, coverage of a syllabus, a Vanna White of the texts and an early dismissal. 
After the second class, I head over to the bookstore to pick up the texts I missed the first time around.  The expense of school is weighing on me. 

After that, I scoot over to the honors course coordinator (I have begged her to allow me into her honors writing course)and see if I can squeeze into a writing class.  The bad news is, she’s late.  I open the plastic that wraps the new texts together and read the syllabus in the hallway.  There are other students waiting for her, all reading like me.  I hear her voice:

“I’m here!  Sorry to keep you waiting!”

I turn around and see her, a woman my age.  She’s walking toward me and I smile, proud of her.  She is a college professor, coordinating the honors program for students who will shape the future.   She remembers me and ushers me into her office.  I follow her in and we quickly target a writing class that has a few drops and a short wait list.  She tells me to go there and try to get in; she assures me I have a good chance. 

The writing class is not an honors course, but I attend because it makes it possible for other writing courses to come.   That’s the plan; that’s the dream.  The instructor looks like my cousin; is dressed like Mario.

As I try to find a seat, one of my former Sunday School students greets me: “Miss Janet?” she says, all smiles.  “No way!  Really??”

I hug her and laugh.  “Lara!”

“What are you doing here?  We have to work together!”  I end up moving forward a bit just to sit by her.  Her presence reminds me of the disparity between the generations in the classroom and I have to force myself to stop thinking this way.  I am a student; I am equal… there are no separations except the ones I put here…

Since I’m  adding  this class at the last minute, the instructor asks for proof that I can be here (I have to have a pre-requisite or assess highly).   I provide him with a copy of my assessment score and a letter from the college congratulating me on an honors placement. 

“Oh,” he says, looking it over.  “This explains that you probably belong here, but I need your scores.  Did you get them?”

I left them at home; I’m disappointed.  “Yeah,” I say, weakly.  “I’ll bring them on Thursday?”

“Alright,” he says.  “Until then, you can’t have a syllabus.”  Then he spends the rest of the class time to go over the syllabus; I am trying not to roll my eyes.  It’s hard.


I came home to Mario, my welcoming warm husband – he wants  to know how everything went.  My dogs wag their tails, hoping for a walk.  After bubbling over with excitement and joyous zeal, we sit down to dinner.  I am home….

After navigating the campus first day of class and a possible wait for class placement I feel like a river rat hanging on to a log.  It seems as much of a bureaucratic accomplishment to be enrolled as it is a major life decision.

 I return here, to my blog.  The constant support of a place I can come and write with no questions asked.  No deadlines, other than the ones I give myself.

I am off to bed now, with a text that I may or may not enjoy reading.  Here comes the required stuff; it leads to the elective stuff….


At least, that’s the way it used to be.