Suddenly I had the urge to go back to college — to earn some other degree or other that would only take two semesters to accomplish — but it would be hard work and require me to live apart from home. I always found myself lost in vacant hallways lumbering up and down stairs lost and chancing that I would get to my dorm room, that’s right I said dorm room, after class.
At forty-something years old, here I was back in the dorms, but somehow they were different from the dorms of my youth. To start with, the lights in the hallways were like a dingy pink cast and the walls went from narrow to wide very quickly. I always seemed to be travelling in circles and had to go down two flights before taking an elevator to send me up three flights and then down another 1/2 rounded stair.
When I slip into my room it’s the only one where the door is wide open so I know I’m in the right place. Curiously, this too, is so different. Instead of two single beds with two closets, two desks and a sink, this room is like an Army barracks with row upon row of grey metal bunk beds, until at the end of the corridor are like four regular single beds.
The music in the room is not bad, mostly something classified as indy-pop, but to my dismay as soon as I could catch onto a tune, the song would change. This seemed the norm, and not some weak game of Music Wars where you would try to name the artist before the other dude.
Perhaps because of my age or maybe because of my charm (ha, ha), I had one of the single beds at the end of the room — no one above me and no bed springs to look at. That’s good because beat, I was and just wanted to wash my face and lay down. Problem was someone else was at the sink before me and I would just have to wait. Fine. I sat for a moment, trying to get the rhythm of the new song and noticed twin blonde girls across the way. In an effort to set the stage for the coming year, I began introductions when suddenly the two morphed into four. Best not to stare, they probably get tired of that, especially with pear-size birthmarks on various parts of their faces that they each seemed to be sporting.
So I turned my attention back to the sink and realized that the person washing up looked a lot like my old boss, Becky, except she had a kerchief on her head to keep the hair off her forehead while she moisturized her large Midwestern face. She spoke first, “Em! It’s you! I thought so.”
She began gabbering about her life and her jobs and why she was here and how long it how been, how many hand-knit sweaters she’d bought, and about her sons, the one that is gay and the one that is not, while I washed my own face and watched her eat a gallon of rocky-road ice cream.
“College is not for me,” I thought as I flew out of there as fast as possible. “I have to get home! My husband must miss me. It’s dark, but I can make it before midnight, I know. He’ll understand.
I looked down and realized I was on a 16-foot-tall Christmas tree clinging to the top branches and willing its roller skates to move me down the highway and straight home. I had to leap to the ground as we (the tree and I) were on a collusion course into the porte cochere of our apartment.
People in the dining room swivelled their heads round to see where the tree and I would crash, yet I was firmly two footed and running to our home except my keys had splintered in the crash and I swept them up and was at the door of apartment 404 with its walls of pine –rough bark and all. He had already converted this into his Man Cave.
“Where’s the bed?” I asked running around our home, “Where the hell is the bed?”
Vic came in with our friend Todd. They were dressed in 49er shirts (not weird, like twin shirts, just fan shirts) and going to see a game or have a beer, or shoot, I don’t know. “Wait. I’m home,” I said. “I’m home now. Where is the bed?”
“Silly girl,” he said. “The bed is in the parking lot to look at the stars. You lay down out here.”
I cried from the in-the-parking-lot bed-now, “I do not want this. It’s hot. I’m homeless. Stay. No game. My keys are lost.”
“Now THAT’s a problem,”said Todd.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why you don’t want to take Nyquil after eating a banana. Jeez.