the biggest little man-child

It was my first semester of college in Reno, and I was very depressed. That is not surprising of course, but this was a particularly nasty episode before I even knew bipolar existed. Nothing I was doing was working out very well, except for being in the marching band. All my band experiences were good; everything else sucked.

My old friends from Goldville didn’t seem to miss me, whether I drove back to visit or wrote letters that no one answered. My racist roommate got me into trouble by flying a Confederate Flag in the dorm window, and I was too stupid to know it would offend anyone, such as the offensive line of the football team. I had to play “wingman” for a friend who nailed his girlfriend while I was left to babysit her dumb-as-a-stump friend. I couldn’t get a job delivering pizza because my auto insurance wouldn’t cover it. I got food poisoning while eating at the campus dining commons, and I was down for three days with gastrointestinal distress. I got a parking ticket for being in the preferred lot, and when I didn’t move the car after 24 hours, I got another ticket and “The Boot”, the device that immobilizes your car.

More importantly, I was struggling in multiple classes, which had never happened before. I was a fucking genius in high school, but it was so easy that I never learned any study habits. I never learned how to work for good grades, and I found I couldn’t do everything at the last second and expect to be successful in college-level classes. My presentation and organizational skills sucked. Believe it or not, I was trying to write papers with a manual typewriter. I was banished from my dorm room for banging away on a Royal late into the night, and someone mercifully let me borrow an electric typewriter until I could find one to buy for cheap.

I discovered I wasn’t the big fish I thought I was. There were a lot of smart people all around me, and while I knew I didn’t suddenly turn stupid, I realized that I wasn’t anything special in the bigger world. Goldville was a small pond I outgrew, but college was the ocean in comparison. I had two girls from my high school who also came to Reno, and they seemed to be doing okay, but I wasn’t. My ego took a big hit that first semester.

At this point, my college career was starting off with a thud, my shiny new proto-adult life was a mess, and I was depressed as hell. Yes, I was dealing with bipolar mood swings that I didn’t know existed, and emotional depression from a fucked-up childhood, but no excuses.

Then a girl arrived in my life, and things changed dramatically.

fledgling

A-mom drove to Reno, following me over the mountains as I was about to start college. Boxes had been carried, small talk finished, and it was time for her to head home alone. It was my first time living away from home, and she was predictably emotional. She was not ready for me to leave home, and I’m sure there were some leftover feelings of abandonment, the jealousy of one survivor over the other’s departure. Maybe some of the tears were brought on by my lack of reaction. I had prepared myself for this, rehearsing how to respond and reduce the amount of histrionics to a minimum. More than that, I had prepared myself to not feel the same sense of separation. I blocked those feelings out, forcing myself to move onward despite any silly emotions I may have had about leaving home. When it was time to say good-byes in the parking lot of Nye Hall, A-mom struggled to accept the new state of things, but I had already neatly wrapped up those feelings and packed them in the mental attic.

In my mind, I had already said goodbye to her, to home, to a chapter of life. Little did I know that this next chapter would be eventful but short, and I would be returning home sooner than expected.