Playing Catch-Up With My Guardian Angels and Threshold Keepers
Obviously, college had a deeply profound affect on my person, and a resounding impact on my future as a writer, something that was not even remotely on the horizon when I entered those corridors at the age of 38, a mother of four, and soon to be divorced wife of an abusive alcoholic. To say it was like landing on a foreign planet, might come close to the reality.
I was definitely a non-traditional student. It took me seven years to complete my two degrees, and I came very close to quitting on two occasions, both of which centered around the changes that had occurred during that time period. That might sound like a long time to get a four year degree, but it is statistically shown that most non-trad students, because of outside obligations, usually average the same amount of time and effort.
Although I did not view myself as exceptional in any way, when I look back on it now, I can see many ways in which I was led (sometimes with an invisible leash), by individuals who must have been born to be guardian angels in another life. For example, there was the woman who led me, almost literally holding my hand, to the threshold of that University experience. I don’t even know her name.
Two years previously, I had become aware that I had no marketable skills. My marriage was at best, rocky, and I decided to find out if I could even consider gaining the skills I would need should that life become a past tense situation. So, I went to the near-by technical college and took tests to see if I might be acceptable for training.
The test I took was to align my sphere of interests, with those of individuals (professionals) in certain occupations, thus giving me some guidelines into the fields of study that would most likely interest me. About two weeks later, a young woman called and said the results were in and could I come and talk with her about them. We set up a day and time.
I was alone in the waiting room, when an attractive young woman came around a divider and called my name. I stood up and she quickly checked the rest of the room, then started laughing as I moved slowly toward her. “You’ll have to forgive me, but I just did the one thing we are told not to do in this circumstance.”
As she led me to her office, she explained, “We are cautioned to never imagine or project an image on our minds of the client before meeting them. I obviously did that in your case and was not at all prepared for actually meeting you. I’m sorry.”
Confused, I asked, “What were you expecting?”
She blushed a bit, but told me, “Well, with your name, and the results on this test, I was all prepared for a tall slim woman, perhaps with her hair in a French twist, and wearing a tweed skirt, polyester blouse, and low-heeled pumps. Instead, here you are, a plump short middle-aged woman in jeans, sandals, a denim work shirt with your sleeves rolled up, and a head of bouncing curls. Again, I apologize. You are Elizabeth, right?” And she laughed at her own embarrassment.
“Yes, I am definitely Elizabeth, but now you have me terribly curious about those test results.”
We settled in her office and she explained how the test works. After doing so, she paused for a moment and then explained, not only the results of my individual test, but her obvious error in assumed projection. She told me that normally the test could actually accurately predict fields of study because the majority of individuals who took them fell clearly in line with one field, with a minor show of interest in another. Sometimes, an individual would fall into two areas of equal interest and some real counseling and special courses would be designed to help that person to make a decision.
Then she really confused me, because she told me, that unlike anyone else, I had scored equally in three very distinct professional fields: Social Worker, Minister, and English Teacher. This information was so far away and above my sense of self, that it took me several minutes to even take it in. Before I could do that, she continued,
“What all of that means is that we, at this associate degree college, have nothing to offer you. You would immediately become bored and simply quit. What you need is a University campus that would allow you to explore and really attain your potential.”
Damn, I was doomed, couldn’t even get into a technical school. I wanted to bawl. She must have seen it on my face, because she very quickly tried to reassure me, “I have some connections out at UW, and have made some phone calls on your behalf. Entrance exams will start in two weeks, and here is the name of the head of the Financial Aid office.”
She handed me a slip of paper with all the information on it, assured me that all I needed to do was show up for the Reading and Writing exam, as well as the Math tests that followed the week afterward. She had included the names of several people who would be more than willing to aid me in the process. I thanked her, jammed the piece of paper in my purse and walked away far more confused than when I’d entered that space.
Drove home, aware that I couldn’t take the time, let alone the money, to attend a University. The test had to be a fluke. I couldn’t even begin to visualize myself doing any of the things she had mentioned. Yet, two weeks later, without telling another living soul, I was in a room with seemingly hundreds of others, taking that Reading and Writing entrance exam. And one week later, found myself walking out, after ten minutes of trying, but miserably failing to execute more than three of the questions on a multi-paged Math exam. It was hopeless.
(to be continued…)