I have to admit, back in “the day” I kind of looked forward to the first day of school. Sure, it was the end of summer, but it was also the time for a fresh start and new beginnings. A chance to see many of the people I hadn’t seen in a long, long time (hey, two months is a lifetime to a kid).
But this coming school year is extra special. For this year marks the first year that I was officially out of K-12 program and began “college life”. Looking back on it now and thinking about the feelings I had at that point in my life is surreal to say the least.
I’m sure some of my fellow classmates will probably tell you that at this point they already had their post high school lives planned out to the finest detail. Everything from which college they were going to attend to what fraternity or sorority they would pledge.
But me? Well, I hadn’t even had given a thought about it. I was more concerned about when my grandmother was going to make her famous sausage casserole for dinner again.
Yes sir, frequent readers of this blog are already well aware of my procrastination and laziness post high-school. In fact, I didn’t take my SAT tests until the very last-minute, and even then just waddled my way through them. I sure as hell wasn’t going to stress myself about studying. I think that the only thing that I was even the slightest bit concerned about was making sure that I registered with Selective Service before I turned eighteen (does anyone else remember that)? Somehow though, I wound up getting accepted into Penn State.
Looking back now, I really lament not taking it more seriously. I spent the first two months at Penn State Allentown and quickly decided to drop out to become a working musician. The extra money I received from Pell Grants and student loans I used for personal things and not for tuition or books. Heck, I figured I had six months from the time I left school to start paying it back, and by then I’d be RICH; or so I thought.
Over the next several years, I was in an out of bands (and becoming a transient college student) before finally coming to the realization that I had made a mistake and needed to enter the work force. Having now started to find “my place” (and with a steady paycheck), I was eventually able to obtain a post high school degree thirteen years after I had graduated and, in 2005 FINALLY paid off the last of my student loans. Better late than never.
Which leads me to this: next week my little girl will start seventh grade and once again I am left to ask the question, “Where does the time go?”. I know it won’t be long before she’ll be faced with the same uncertainty and stress about what lies ahead for the next phase of her life that most high school graduates face. The feeling of needing to find her place.
I think one day I’ll have to sit her down and tell her my story and why its important for her to forge her own path and take her education seriously. Maybe we’ll discuss it at dinner one night over Nan’s sausage casserole. I think I have the recipe for it somewhere…