Saturday, May 2, 2015

School Dazed

The CU-Boulder Alumni Association Calendar occupies a prominent spot on one of the walls of my office.  When I arrived at work in yesterday's wee small hours I flipped the calendar from April to May and discovered that yesterday was the final day of classes at CU for the 2014-15 academic year. Commencement is one week from today. 

I graduated from CU-Boulder twenty-six years ago.  Graduation was May 12, 1989.  My recollection is that there was a longer period of time between the final day of classes and graduation.  That recollection is based upon nothing other than the fact that I remember taking my last final exam, it was in Professor David Mapel's "History of Political Philosophy" (PoliSci 439), on May 5, 1989.  As I turned in my exam, which I aced (and I knew that I had as soon as it was put in front of me - I was never been more zeroed in for a test than I was that evening), I shook his hand and thanked him for being an excellent, engaging teacher, which he was.  As I stepped out into the cool of a Friday evening, I remember feeling exhilarated that I had closed my college career on such a high note and then, almost immediately thereafter, feeling adrift.  It was as if as soon as the door of the building (I think it was Hellems but I am not certain) closed behind me, my sense of who I was and where I belonged disappeared.  

Although I knew as a collegian that my action plan called for law school, I did not go directly to law school from college.  By that point in my life, I had spent a disproportionately high percentage of my life in a classroom.  I did not want to continue on that path, uninterrupted.  One must take a standardized test, called the LSAT, as part of the law school admission process.  I opted not to take the LSAT at any time it was given during 1988 or 1989, thus ensuring that I could not apply to law school for the fall of 1989.  I did not know what I wanted to do, but I knew at that particular point in time what I did not want to do.  I did not want to be a student. 

Schneedz and I graduated on Friday, May 12, 1989.  Our great friend and apartment mate, John Gloor, with whom we had bonded within minutes of making each other's acquaintance as baby-faced freshmen in late August, 1985, did not.  John suffered a brutal break of his leg about a month or so before graduation on what he had already designated as his last run of the ski season.  By the time we "cap and gowned" it on Graduation Day, John was recovering at home in Aspen from the surgery (or surgeries - I think there was more than one) needed to keep him together.  

Five days after graduation, one of our other great friends and apartment mates, Jay Bauer, drove Schneedz and I to Stapleton Airport to catch our respective flights home.  In the almost twenty-six years since the three of us stood in the terminal together saying our goodbyes, I have seen Alex but once and Jay not at all.  Through the "miracle" (giving that term its broadest possible definition) of social media, Jay and I have remained in contact with one another.  I have not talked to Alex in far too many years to remember.  My occasional e-mails go unanswered.  The admittedly goofy Christmas present I sent him this past December went unacknowledged.  

As a much-younger man, turning from two of my closest friends towards the jet-way that would take me on towards the rest of my life, I had no idea what was ahead of me.  My decision to not attend law school immediately worked out pretty well for me - all things considered.  I spent slightly more than a year working for my older brother Kelly's construction company as a laborer.  We worked long days (likely longer than they might have otherwise been had Kel not had to spend a portion of his day ensuring that whatever the hell I had done had not compromised the structural integrity of the project) in a number of different spots across New Jersey and New York City.  

When my first foray at the law school application process was less than successful, I left the job for Kel and ended up working at a collection agency in Edison.  Glamorous work?  Nope.  But it was there that I met Margaret, for whom I actually worked for a period of time.  By the time I stopped working there full-time in August, 1991, to begin law school at Seton Hall, I knew I had met the woman I intended to marry.  

Proof, I suppose, if of nothing else that one can cover a hell of a lot of ground in a rather concentrated amount of time...

...even if at the start of the journey, one's destination is unknown. 

-AK 

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