Three Things I Know

Let’s be honest, most people have a vision of what college is going to be like, whether that be raging parties every weekend or saying goodbye to sleep in place of homework.  I knew I would not be saying hello to parties and I would not be saying goodbye to sleep, but I didn’t know much else.  There wasn’t an ideal freshman year I had in my mind before starting and I think that really helped me not be disappointed with mine.

There were simple things I knew would happen:

1. I would make friends

2. I would learn things

3. College would be like nothing I’d ever experienced.

But there were also a lot of complicated things I never could have predicted:

1. School would be the easiest part of my life

2. I would sustain an injury that challenged me more than anything previously had, but which would also inspire me to change my life

3. My father would die

That’s not to say that classes were easy. First semester Logic kicked my butt (though I ended up getting a B).  Even the classes I liked were a lot of work.  College is nice because you’re in the classroom for less cumulative hours than in high school, but you get more homework, which is fine, just time consuming.  You’ve gotta know how to budget your time.  So what I’m trying to say is that classes weren’t easy, but everything else was harder. My dad died 3 days before I was supposed to have surgery, 9 days before Christmas.  I’m not trying to illicit sympathy, I’m just trying to say that it was a lot all at once.

But I made it through.  And I am better for it and stronger for it.  This year I learned that upside down A’s exist in math(so do backward E’s), that abstractions are a no-no in fiction writing, and that Martin Luther talked a lot of trash. but I also learned that I can do anything.

I was on the Dean’s list both semesters. I got a poem and a short story published in my University’s literary magazine.  I won 3rd place in a short story writing contest. I ran a 5k.  And those are only my quantifiable accomplishments.  Did freshman year go as smoothly as I hoped?  Not even close.  But it set me up to handle any bumps I’ll face in the future and, somehow, it has given me a more positive outlook.  This year was a blessing in disguise (a really good disguise).

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Dear Dad,

I am so angry at you.

I’m angry at you for all the things you said to me and all the things you never said to me.  I know Honesty is the best policy but sometimes I just needed to hear, “I’m proud of you.”

I’m angry at you for not being my hero.

I’m angry at you for making me grow up too fast, for treating me like a child but expecting me not to mess up like one.

I’m technically an adult now and I spent a lot of years pretending I didn’t need you, but I do. And I’m sorry if I never told you that.  I think I convinced myself I didn’t.

No matter how many times I tell people, “I’m okay.  With all his health problems we’ve kind of just been waiting for this” that doesn’t change the fact that the first thing I said when mom told me you died was, “You’re kidding.”  When she said no, I looked at Marshall and asked, “Is she kidding?”  But death is never kidding and I keep realizing that over and over at the most random and inconvenient times.

I’m angry at you for having Christmas presents for everyone in your closet.

I’m angry at you for leaving everything you have to Marshall and I, a fact which everyone won’t stop reminding us of.  “You were his pride and joy.  All of it’s yours.  You get to decide what we do with it.”  But you had so much shit a part of me just wants to burn it all because that would mean not having to face all the memories you collected.

They won’t stop calling. “How are you? How are you? How are you?” I’d be better if you hadn’t had a lock box with a crumpled poem I wrote when I was nine that you saved from the trash.  I’d be better if your calendar hadn’t been marked “Michy’s coming home” for the day after you died.  I’d be a whole lot better if your voice-mail from two months ago hadn’t been so different than the one from two weeks ago, because in the second one it sounds like you’re dying.

I’m angry at you for usually being the reason I cried, but also for being the person I wanted to impress the most.  It meant something when you told me I’d done a good job because you didn’t hand those out for free.

And I’m angry at you for taking almost all of my eighteen years to realize your mistakes.  I had to move to college three hours away before you owned up to your part in our broken relationship.  And when you wrote that stupid five page letter about all the good times we’d had it was almost enough to forgive everything else.  So I’m angry at you for apologizing, but more angry at you for not apologizing sooner.  For that reason I’m angry at God, because it’s a little sadistic of him to take you now, right when everything was about to change.

We used to run football patterns in your driveway for hours. You bought me my own box of cereal for your house and didn’t get angry when I ate out of yours every time.  When you got sick the first time, you would give me and Marshall money so we could run across the alley to the A&W to get dinner and we felt like grown ups.  When my knee surgery got cancelled the first time you let me cry to you.  When it got rescheduled you said you’d be there.

I’m angry at you for lying.  I’m having surgery Monday and you promised you’d be there.  You were the one who passed your knee problems on to my brother and I so I knew you would understand the frustration.  You would be there to take care of me.  For the first time in my whole life I felt like you could be something my mom couldn’t.  You even marked it on your calendar.

I’m 18 but I’m just a kid. And you had no right to leave me.