Monthly Archives: August 2015

Somethings just aren’t that funny…. but the lessons are valuable

WARNING…. This one isn’t light or funny or all that nostalgic feeling.  It is however a part of my life just the same.

My college roommate and I started off with a fairly decent relationship.  He was an athlete from the western part of NC and of course, I was a non-athlete from the east.  We didn’t have very much in common but were always cordial when we were in the room and would chat about what our days had been like but nothing super friendly.

As the weeks progressed though, I noticed a change in him.  He became more confused or disconnected with his comments about things.  It was like he wasn’t sure about classes or his sports activities… or anything else.  Since I was having my own struggles with this whole college thing I didn’t take it too much to heart that he was in a much deeper / more dire situation than me.  Looking back on it, he was becoming very lethargic… just laying around the room and struggling to get through each day.

I really wasn’t paying much attention…. I was lost in my own troubles… I had ended up on crutches (yes, I still owe you that story too, I know) and classes continued to be a struggle and this long distant relationship just wasn’t working so well either so, I just couldn’t take it any more.  I needed something familiar before I completely drown in it all.  So I convinced my sister to let me borrow her car to go home, if I could get to Raleigh to get it.  I finally found a way up there so I took off for the weekend and went home.

I came back on Sunday feeling a bit stronger or at least rejuvenated from having some time with things that are familiar… just being home for a day or two was a help… but….

When I walked back into my room, my roommate was sitting in his desk chair… staring blankly into space.  He didn’t move or acknowledge me when I said hello and ask him about his weekend.  After a few minutes, he turned and looked at me and said, “I want it back.”  I had no clue what he was talking about.  I couldn’t get him to engage in a conversation.  I stepped out in the hall and asked a guy that lived next door what had gone on.  He told me that some guys from one of the religious groups on campus had been over visiting for a quite a bit over the weekend.  After some further investigation I found out that these guys had been over, determined that he had some significant spiritual issue and did some praying over him.  After much questioning of my roommate, I figured out that he felt like they had driven something out of him through their prayers…. and whatever it was, he wanted it back.

This whole thing scared me half to death.  I left him just sitting like a zombie in his chair and I went down the hall to see if I could find someone to help me.. or just to talk to about it.  The folks I turned to weren’t in so I went back to my room.

As I walked in…. there was my roommate… he had climbed out of the window and was standing on the ledge.  I slowly walked over to him and ask him what he was doing… he just kept saying “I want it back.”  I was afraid he was going to jump.  As soon as I got close enough that I could get a hand on him, I grabbed him and pulled him with all the strength I could muster to get him back in the window.  We fell to the floor and he just broke down crying.  I yelled for the guy in the next room to come over…

While I sat with my roommate, our next door neighbor contacted someone in administration.  The next morning, my roommate’s dad showed up, loaded up his son and all his belongings and left.  I never saw him or heard anything about him again…

This event profoundly impacted me in more ways that I can even begin to write here.  But even so, there are instances even today, when I catch myself so focused on myself that I worry that I’m not seeing people around me that are in much greater need of my help / support than my petty little issues.  Watch out for each other… there are lots of folks that could use your help.

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Moving out…. moving on….. growing apart…. and growing up…

It’s been a long time coming but recent events have pulled me back into writing a little bit.  I have just completed a move of my daughter back up to App State for grad school and many of my friends have been posting on Facebook about taking their freshmen sons and daughters off to college so of course, that led me to thinking about my college days.  So here we go….

It was August 1977. High school was over, I had said good bye to the love of my life for the first of many times… and I was off to college. To summarize my college experience, I can’t say that it was some of the best years of my life. I know that many people found the experience to be the best and that they would go back to those days in a minute. I wouldn’t… well, let me qualify that a little bit… there are some specific days and some relationships that I cherish deeply. It’s just that this particular time in my life was extremely difficult for me.

I like to tell people that it was all I could do to figure out how to cram 4 years of college into 6 years… but somehow I did finally get through it. But let’s go back to the beginning of it all.

I never will forget sleeping in the back seat of my parent’s station wagon as my dad drove the 4 plus hours between Elizabeth City and Fayetteville.  I look back on those days and laugh about how little “stuff” I had… and that every single bit of it was crammed into that one vehicle.  That whole first weekend as school was very surreal to me. I was really numb to the whole registration, moving in to Sanford Dorm and going through the paces of being a freshman. I met a lot of new people from lots of different places. My roommate and I seem to hit it off pretty good so I’m thinking things are going to be okay… but still there was this gnawing at the pit of my stomach. I just couldn’t figure it out.

I struggle with classes, the love of my life (that I had seen and spent time with every day for the last 2 years) being away at a different school, a stretch of time on crutches (I’ll come back to that), and just general depression with being gone from everything familiar and that I truly loved.

But then there was a group of friends that I made… a rather strange group with different personalities from all over the place. For some reason I connected with this group.   We were all freshmen, trying to find our way and were just somehow drawn to each other.  In particular there was this one girl that I felt a true comfort with… a real kinship if you will.  I can’t tell you when we started hanging out or how it happened… she was just there.  We spent so many hours together… just sitting and talking… I shared stories of my struggles with school… with my roommate… with missing home and all the things that brought me comfort there… with all that boy / girl stuff that we all dealt with at one time or another…  That relationship was a true lifeline for me.

I’m not quite certain how this relationship changed but I am pretty sure it was me… the confusion and frustration and fears of that time caused me to be very irrational in my behavior, not just with her but with everyone in that group.  I don’t know if we just drifted apart or if I did something really boneheaded, which I was apt to do, but in any case, we just kinda went our separate ways.

I read somewhere recently that one of the things they don’t tell you when you go off to college is that the original friends you make when you first get there aren’t the ones you usually keep.  I can see that as the case here.  But I can tell you this much… I do think about that relationship often… and how much it meant to me back then… and how I don’t know how I would have survived without it… and it still makes me smile.

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