As I was a young teen, I was part of my church youth choir. That and youth group were my main social connections, having been homeschooled. I remember thinking about how much I loved being part of that group. I wanted to stay a part of it for as long as I could. In my head, I saw myself as a college student at the Santa Rosa JC, or maybe Sonoma State, working a part or full-time job, and being a part of the choir – hanging out with the same people forever. Being friends with them forever.
At this point, a lot of my best friends had been around for a couple years, then moved on due to either geographic relocation or circumstances uncontrollable. I constantly had a different best friend. I constantly had to readjust. To get to know someone new. To let new people get to know me. I wanted that more than anything.
After my mom died, and I went to Hanna, I didn’t think too much about college for the first six months or so. My main focus was on living and making it by.
The next time I stepped on the Sonoma State campus was the summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school. The lead staff member in the house I lived in at Hanna was a Sonoma State alum, and he decided that we needed to go on a tour of the campus. I still vaguely remember it.
We started at the flagpoles. The staff member who was working that day drove us out and dropped us off. It was a Friday during the summer – obviously campus was empty. We walked from the flagpoles along the outside of campus, by Beaujolais. We passed the baseball field. The lacrosse field. We walked back through the tennis courts – to this date, that’s the only time I’ve been back in that part of campus – around behind the Commons by the lakes, through to Cab and Zin. We walked by the Caf, and near the Health Center, by Nichols, by Darwin (under construction at that time) and back to our starting point.
The idea of college was so incredible to me. I wanted to be able to study what I wanted to study. I wanted to read and to learn. I wanted to be in classes with people who actually cared. I wanted to be free to make my own choices. To not live under the rules and regulations that others set forth.
But I knew I did not want to be at Sonoma State. I wanted to leave Sonoma County. To get a better perspective. To be far, but near. I wanted to leave behind everything that was in the past – to start over completely from scratch.
That walk stayed in my mind for years. The campus was something that others would have seen as stunning and beautiful. I saw it as normal. I was used to the beauty of Sonoma County and saw it as regular. What did inspire me was the opportunity for learning.
Yet even then it still seemed crazy to hope for a chance to be a college student. I couldn’t believe in my mind that being a college student was a possibility. In such a short period of time I went from not knowing exactly what college was to wanting to achieve and be something without a college degree to wanting to be in college.
To be continued…