Wednesday, July 11, 2012

time flies...

Since I'll be graduating today with my second degree from St. Thomas University, I thought I'd share a story I wrote this year for a writing class.

First, some background information: 

I wasn't scared, or even nervous, when I began university 5 years ago, but I suppose I wasn't quite ready for the newness of it all or to face the reality that people come from different backgrounds and have different interests than my own. Thankfully, I learned to be more openminded and to embrace new experiences. I also became less afraid to ask questions and voice my own opinions. 

It is tradition at St. Thomas to order a T-Ring and to attend the T-Ring Ceremony in your graduating year. When I was a senior, I knew I didn't want to have my name engraved on my ring, but instead something more meaningful, something special to commemorate my experiences and all that I'd learned at STU.



I'm standing in the long line at Tim Hortons in James Dunn, waiting to order the large double-double I need to make it through the day. Without warning, there's a tap on my shoulder. I turn around, and a grin spreads across my face. "Emily!" I cry, flinging my arms around her shoulders. I just saw her last week but it feels like it's been much longer than that; that's the way it is when you're best friends.

"Hi, stranger," she replies, her grin mirroring my own. "What's new?"

I shrug, wrinkle my nose, and roll my eyes simultaneously. "Nothing. School." She laughs and bobs her head to show that she understands. "What's new with you?"

Shuffling her feet and adjusting the strap on the green Adidas bag that she drags everywhere, Emily mumbles, "Oh, you know, just living the exciting life of a student and an RA." We both laugh and wistful thoughts of my own RA days swirl in my head. I shake them away and ask if she's getting excited about graduation. "Not really, but I probably should be, huh? Everyone else seems to be."

"HA! Remember me?" I scoff. "I wasn't even excited about graduating the day of."

My best friend, who knows me all too well, smirks, her hazel eyes sparkling. She brushes my comment off easily and says, "You were excited." I tilt my head and narrow my eyes. "You were! Maybe not about graduating, but about grad photos, and the pub crawl, and the T-Ring Ceremony."

Again, wistful thoughts crowd my mind. "Yah, I guess I was." I pause and then repeat, "I was," in a firmer tone. 

Emily laughs and I can't help but laugh, too, although it's a little bit forced on my part because I'm lost in memories. "By the way, what did you get engraved on your T-Ring again? I need to order mine soon and..."

-----

I'm standing in my small residence room, facing the pale blue wall, slapping up pages from the Twisted Whiskers page-a-day calendar my mom got me for Christmas. My suitcase is lying open on the floor and my thick winter coat is still draped across my shoulders but I don't feel the beads of sweat dripping down my back as I yell, "And this one! Yup! This one's perfect, too, because I am surrounded by nuts!" I rip another page off, apply tape at the corners, and smash it onto the wall. "Don't worry, I don't want to get out of bed, either!"

My mom looks timid, over by the door, and she whispers, "I'm glad you like the calendar."

"Oh, it's perfect!" Rip, smoosh, smash! "Every page that I rip off is a day. And that means it's one less day that I have to spend here." Rip, smoosh, smash! "Here in this hellhole with the weirdos." I steal a sideways glance at the door, because I know that they're in the room across the hall, sipping tea and talking about politics and Plato and a bunch of other stuff I don't understand...

-----

"Okay, Mom! I'm going, I'm going!" The dingy, grey carpet is a blur as I race up the stairs. I have to brush my teeth, straighten my hair, and get dressed before my mom decides it's time to leave. She hates waiting for me and I hate it when she's angry. As I twist the doorknob and push open the bedroom door, I smile just a bit. The bright yellow and flat turquoise on my walls never fail to get me and cool air hits my face. 

Grabbing my hair straightener, I turn towards the pine dresser and the mirror that is leaning on top of it. Hiss. I can see steam rising as I pull the tool through my still-damp hair. Shifting from one foot to the other, I glance down and realize that I forgot to tear off yesterday's page on my calendar. In a series of fluid motions, I carefully set the straightener down, pick up the calendar, and rip off the second-to-last page. It is December 31st and a green parrot is staring back at me. Tears stream down my face as I read the text: "Time flies when you're having fun!"

I bring my right hand up and wipe the salty tears from my cheek. "Mom!" I yell, already spinning around to run back through the door and down to the kitchen. I have to show her the truth I just discovered... 

-----

"What can I get for you?" The kind, but impatient, voice of the woman behind the counter interrupts my thoughts.

I face her and say, "Um, a large double-double, please." Over my shoulder, to Emily, I respond, "Time flies..."

(The photos above are of me and my friend, Nicole, before the 2011 T-Ring Ceremony, and of me at an after-party. The second photo always reminds me of Captain Planet :)

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