The end of things

This morning I left the house with a bounce in my step. I was excited to have finished the 10 page research paper I had worked on all weekend and turn it in today. The chilly air and the empty gray sky couldn’t take my sunshine, as I ushered Charlie out to the van early to meet my mother for lunch. Handing in such a large assignment has always been one of my favorite feelings -the sense of accomplishment and the anxiousness with which I anticipate the professor’s reaction. I love writing papers for this moment the most.

But life wasn’t going to let me put the cap on this semester that easily. Ever since I re-enrolled in college I’ve been feeling as if there’s some sort of unspoken trial going on, and the universe is placing obstacles at every step to see if I’ll throw up my hands in frustration. Flat tires, sick kids and limited fuel funds have all made me late or absent more times this semester than I was comfortable with. Today would be no different.

As we were on our way home from lunch to drop her off, another driver gestured to roll down the window and informed us that my driver’s side tire was flat. I pulled into a gas station to discover that there was a screw in the tread. I aired it up and it held long enough to drop off my mother and get us home to switch cars. Thank Goddess.

At home I had a minute of trouble finding my keys (left them in my other jacket this morning after taking Sebastian to school) and we were on our way. Of course then I realize that despite us being now almost 15 minutes late, I was going to have to stop for gas because the tank was on E.

Now 20 minutes late, Charlie and I are driving to school and I can smell something burning under the hood… I tell myself it’s probably just a belt that needs replacing. We make it to school, barely getting Charlie to the bathroom before he has an accident -again, thankful for that.

I half speed-walk in between jogging a few steps at a time until I finally find myself at the darkened door of a large empty lecture room in the basement at DuSable Hall, NIU. The place is abandoned -but I know the professor’s office is just a few buildings over. He has been so patient with me this semester, coming late so frequently and missing a quiz early in the semester. I have struggled in-class to show him that his tutelage is extremely important to me, and that I am enjoying the content of his lectures. He is there, graciously accepting my paper and returning my last quiz. I got a 95. He tells me he enjoyed having me in class, and I feel a sense of relief and gratitude at the mercies of fate and professor Cassidy.

Finally, walking across campus to find a warm computer lab to nestle up in and write this blog, I can enjoy the chilly bite of the wintry wind on my cheeks. The remodeling of Cole Hall is nearly finished, and my work for this semester is done. Even my dissatisfaction at having flown by the seat of my pants for most of the academic year is settling down. Next month I’ll start my last semester as a college student, and prepare myself for the next stage in my life. I will accomplish the thing my father set before me in the last words we ever shared. I will make him proud.

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