When I was a freshman in college I lived, like many freshman, in the dorms. They weren’t just any dorms. They were the fancy dorms. Well, as fancy as dorms get. The building was made up of five identical floors, each containing four suites. One suite held two bathrooms, five bedrooms, eight beds and a den* of sorts.
My suitemates and I lived on the third floor. One day I** forgot this detail. I got off on the fourth floor, walked through the common room and into the shoebox, er, bedroom directly over top of my own. A strange girl sat at what, at the time, I believed was my desk. I looked at her. She looked at me. We looked at each other. And then I said the one and only thing I really could say in that moment of deadlock.
“Well, all right then. I’ll see you later.”
If only I had heeded Bob Dylan’s advice, “An artist has got to be careful never really to arrive at a place when he thinks he’s at somewhere.”
An artist. A student. Pish Posh. We all get lost sometimes.
Like the time my friend and I stepped off a train in Switzerland instead of Italy, because I carelessly confused Geneva and Genoa at the ticket counter. We were backpacking around Europe after graduating college. Clearly, I never took geography. Fortunately, my lack of very fundamentally basic knowledge worked to our advantage. Had we not found ourselves in Switzerland, it’s unlikely we would have found ourselves jumping out of a helicopter over what can only be described as the most gorgeous place on earth.
I’ll never forget that first step into the sky. Mostly because the tandem diver strapped to my back tricked me. There was a step just outside the door that we climbed up to board the helicopter. Just before we were to jump I was instructed to step out onto that very same ledge. I stepped all right, but it was a long time before my feet found anything solid to land on.
Dylan must have been talking about the mandatory orange jumpsuits and the thrill on our faces when he said, “You always have to realize that you’re constantly in a state of becoming.”
Thinking back on my first and last days of college makes me feel a little sad. At the time, I felt like I had the whole rest of my life ahead of me. The possibilities were endless. Now here I am, charging towards my 30th birthday, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
But I have to remind myself that not much has changed. The truth is I’m a little lost. And I’m a lot terrible at geography. But I still have the whole rest of my life ahead of me. I just have to take a leap of faith and trust that when times get tough my parachute will open. And in the meantime, I should try to enjoy the ride.
After all, didn’t Bob figure, “As long as you can stay in that realm, you’ll sort of be all right.”
*My husband calls the living room the den, and I always ridicule his vocabulary choices, reminding him that, “We aren’t a pack of wolves!”
**As I’m writing this I’m realizing that this actually happened to another girl that lived in the suite. I think. I can’t actually remember. I do remember this. I was definitely the one who told a handsome young man that I could not give him my phone number because I didn’t remember what it was. And that was the truth. (Cut me some slack! It was a new number*** and I had a lot to take in that first week of college.) He, of course, thought it was the world’s lamest rejection line.
***Remember when most people didn’t have cell phones?
For the Scriptic prompt exchange this week, Michael gave me this prompt: An artist has got to be careful never really to arrive at a place when he thinks he’s at somewhere. You always have to realize that you’re constantly in a state of becoming. As long as you can stay in that realm, you’ll sort of be all right. -Bob Dylan.
I gave kgwaite this prompt: There’s always time to do it right.