After my brother dropped me off at Detroit Metro Airport, after surviving the TSA screening and after the boarding call was made, once I found my seat, the palms began to sweat. I was going away to college.
Just like any naïve, snot-nosed kid, wet behind the ears, and ready to change the world, I was nervous. I didn’t know anyone in New York City, and I, in fact, hadn’t even visited the Manhattan College campus.
Upon arrival, I found my assigned dorm room, dropped my bag and proceeded to orientation. Immediately and completely lost, I didn’t know whether I was supposed to be in Miguel Hall, or Smith Auditorium, or why I was in the Locke’s Loft kitchen when, finally, I spotted a faculty member.
“Excuse me,” I called. “I’m afraid that I’m a little lost.”
“Parents should be in the auditorium,” she answered.
“I’m not a parent.”
“I’m sorry. You must be a new faculty member.”
So, we played Process of Elimination while I double-checked my attire to make sure that the cardigan, loafers, and gimlet had been left behind until I explained, trying not to embarrass her, that I had just arrived on campus as a student.
Before leaving Detroit Metro Airport, after the boarding call was made, once I had found my seat, as the palms began to sweat, I ordered a gimlet, and told myself that, whatever I do at Manhattan College, I must not be insecure about my age.
“I understand that I may not look as young or as promising as my fellow students, but I’m hardly twenty-eight,” I assured the faculty member, jokingly giving her a hard time before confessing, “I’m twenty-nine. Alright, I’m thirty. But, I am not insecure about my age. I’m thirty-one. I accidentally turned thirty-one last spring. Anyway.”
The kind and confused faculty member directed me to where students would be meeting, but didn’t have time to ask what I had been doing for the last thirteen years. So, I asked myself for her. To answer, it’s not as if I had gone through the procedure, applied for college during my junior and senior years of high school, and waited thirteen years for the acceptance letter to arrive.
When I was eighteen, I had no intention of going to college—at least not at the moment. I had moved to Chicago, I rented a nice apartment, I had a good job, I traveled and I was happy. I was happy for about a decade.
The job was still good, and the apartment was still nice, but I had grown dissatisfied and restless in my adult life. I wanted to learn what I didn’t know. I wanted to be challenged. I wanted assignments, thought-provoking discussions, and I wanted to surround myself with people wanting those same things. And I suppose I wanted to upgrade my residence from “big city” to “preposterously huge city on an island.”
So, I enrolled at a local college in Chicago, earned some credits and soon applied as a transfer student to Manhattan College. Call me a late bloomer, but here I am. I feel good about where I am, but I suppose it’s okay to occasionally get a little lost, too.
I don’t know what kind of student I would have made thirteen years ago, but today, for now, I feel like I am right where I belong. So, thank you for accepting me, Manhattan College. I’m excited to be here, and I can’t wait to get acquainted with you. I’m still a little wet behind the ears, but the palms aren’t as sweaty.