Glory Days

Spending so much time with some pretty nifty college students these past weeks took me back to my own experience at university.  I chose to go out of state to Marquette for several reasons, it was Catholic, they’d just won the NCAA Men’s Basketball championship, it was urban-at least more urban than where I came from, they had a journalism school (my first major until I realized I’d have to write every single day-so not for me!) and no one I knew was going there.  High school was a challenge so I wanted a fresh start somewhere where no one knew anything about me.  Plus the application didn’t require an essay.  Did I mention I wasn’t all that jazzed about writing?

So there I was at my new school with no friends around me, no one whose face I even recognized.  In other words, be careful what you wish for.  I was lucky to fall in with a good group of people that were pretty much like me, average students, average looks, average families, average ambitions.  We weren’t the jocks, the rich kids, the cool kids, the prepsters, the brains, the theatre kids.  In short, we were average.  I was happy with my friends and loved them for who they were, not what they did.  It didn’t hurt as much as it did in high school that I wasn’t part of the in crowd but I was still aware of the cliques.

Watching the students during the filming of my recent projects I was reminded that those cliques still existed.  There were still those that were in and those looking in from the outside.  I was reminded how painful it was to look from from the outside trying to figure out how to get in.  Now that I’m old and grizzled being in the cool crowd is not even on my radar.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t remember what it was like when being accepted was the most important thing in my life.  And the most elusive.  My heart goes out to those going through it now.  It does get better with age, the pain diminishes and is replaced with all the wonderful accomplishments that lie ahead.  I’d never give up the wisdom and perspective I’ve gained for another chance at being 18 again.  Thanks but no thanks!

Oh Brother!

Today is my brothers birthday.  He’s the one next to me in line so he’s the oldest male in the family.  We are 20 months apart in age but since I was Miss SmartyPants and had to skip a grade, we were 3 grades apart.  In high school the age difference was probably the broadest as he was a freshman when I was a oh-so-cool-I-can’t-talk-to-you senior.  I mean I had my driver’s license.  Come on, how much cooler could I get?  Oh I’d deign to talk to him when I was giving him a ride to school in the mornings.  Poor guy, my extensive ministrations every morning meant we were flying to school as fast as my 1972 Chevy Nova V-8 engine could carry us.  He inevitably was sprinting across the railroad tracks from the student parking lot in a vain attempt to not be late for his first hour of class.  Whatever, he was a freshman.  They’re supposed to suffer.

Strangely enough he followed me to college and enrolled in the engineering school at Marquette my senior year.  There is an infamous story about his interview with the Dean of the engineering school that I accompanied him on.  As I’d done for most of his life, I proceeded to answer all the questions the Dean asked my brother.  At which point the Dean turned to me and oh so elegantly led me down my path of self betrayal “So, do you want to attend Marquette?” he asked.  ” Oh no sir” I replied with no little bit of condescension “I’m already enrolled here”.  He smiled and replied “then I don’t need to talk to you do I?”  The smile on my brother’s face was priceless.  Someone had finally told his sister in no uncertain terms to shut up.  Yes Virginia, miracles do happen.

As we’ve aged, the age difference has dissipated.  In fact, sometimes I think he’s more mature than I am.  He created (along with his beautiful wife) the family I’d always wanted.  He’s been the rock I’ve turned to more times than I can remember, especially these past 20 months.  He’s the one I know will drop everything when I need help.  He calls to check up on me every week and he lets me do all the talking once again.  I can honestly say, he’s more than a brother to me, he’s one of my best friends.  I’m very, very lucky to have him in my life.  Thanks Bro, and Happy Birthday.