How I relate to college kids

Not the same anymore.  And yet, I was that kid.

So I was going through that huge pile on my desk.  You know how it gets, the annoying pile of junk mail.   (I wrote “junk male” but deleted.)  So I started throwing out stuff, empty envelopes and pages that my printer printed halfway, goofed, and then spit out. Those times I had to print out a test page and then said to myself, “Oh, I’ll reuse that paper,” and never did.

All that was an easy decision.  And then it came to the huge, heavy magazine from Emerson College.  Okay, kiddies, what am I supposed to do with this?  I haven’t read it and I don’t read any of my mail except what comes from Social Security. And if something looks like it’s from the bank saying my card was canceled out.  Once every few years that’s happened due to some charge on there that was funny-looking to them.  Usually they notify me by phone and the mail notification is superfluous anyway. Banks are responsible these days. But those alum magazines irk me.

What am I supposed to think? They want money and I don’t have it.  Not only that, what do they want money for?

They want money to enrich a rich kid’s life so a kid can fly to a foreign country, party, and have a good time.  This is the college experience I suppose.  I’m asked to give money so college kids can have a blast.

Yes, I was in that place once.  Over the years I’ve had less and less money and can travel less and less. I wonder how I can put money onto my MBTA Charlie Card (it’s a disability card) so that I can pay for bus fare to buy groceries.  I always wonder if the other passengers are going to yell at me when I’m trying to get off the bus with the groceries yet another time.  It’s tough carrying food home in a knapsack, food for my dog and myself that I pay for with food stamps. That’s my life.

So the glossy magazine (which I don’t want to read) often tells about the wonderful work of these students.  I do relate, but much differently than you’d think. Giving money isn’t going to do anything.

Yes, I can relate. I was in that place once. Everyone was a kid once.  I went to college.  I traveled.  So here was that place for me:

I remember being alone in Europe.  It’s the coldest place on Earth even when the temperature isn’t that low. I felt out of place in the train station.   I silently cursed my mother for having given me a bright green ski jacket. Why did I wear that stupid jacket?  Why did she always give me such garish colors, instead of something drab and ordinary?  This stand-out color made it obvious I was American.  Men and women hurried by, speaking clipped German, glaring at me, clearly annoyed at my mere presence. Spoiled American student.  I hung my head.  I had to get out of there.  I had to figure out which train I needed to catch. But how?

No one would give me the answer. These train guys knew, but I had no way of figuring out anything.  I didn’t deserve anything. Spoiled rich kid. They all looked down on me.  I was nothing but dirt to them.

Finally, I asked them in French if they spoke French.  “Oui,” the guy said. They did.  So I asked in French how to get to where I was going and I got my answer.

This was how you survive the world.  I deserved nothing.

I was alone somewhere.  Some city, some country, not home.  On a street.  Just wandering.  Other kids that traveled seemed to have it all together.  I sure didn’t.  I kicked the stones out in front of me.

It was around the time of my 20th birthday.

Back home, the Blizzard of ’78.  I came home to a white world.  I heard about what happened.  People said no one had been able to get out for  days.

I was a lonely kid once and that’s how I relate to kids. How you feel when everyone else is having a blast and you aren’t.  And now, looking back, I remember.

No way do I want to throw all those colorful memories, even though they are sad, out the drain.  My stories are precious and they make me the incredible person that I am.

Someday, I want to go to Emerson College and speak about eating disorders. However, every time I’ve called and asked if I can read there (telling them I am an alum and am published) I am turned down. Told some excuse.  Put off.  I think I’m approaching it the wrong way. Even at our 10-year reunion, I was told, “No, we aren’t having readings this year.”  Now that’s weird.  I felt so shoved aside by this college that I’d paid money to and worked my butt off and finished….So I’m now just asked for money and nothing else? Given no recognition whatsoever…..Do I have to be a rich donor?  I guess so.

The glossy went into my recycling collection.  I’m sad.  I’ve got a bunch of things to do over the next few weeks, but approaching Emerson College and asking to speak there is one of my goals.  I mean, I’m offering to speak there FOR FREE.  No pay.  A gift.  This is far more valuable than any money I can send them.

But I’ve got to approach the right people, the right department, the right personnel.  I was a kid once. This is who I am.

Feedback and comments welcome!