Entering Western Washington State College directly from high school, I quit after one quarter. My 2.02 GPA belied a deeper reality. I had no idea where I was going, who I was, and what I wanted. And my D in French was undeserved. I should have flunked.
In the long march to maturity, Western was where reality forced confrontation with self. Just how far did I still need to travel to arrive at a tentative sense of competent adulthood?
Higginson Hall, my first residence away from home, my first painful dabbling in independence, proved a great site for bubbling failure.
I, lusting after Elvis-loving Geena around the billiards table, couldn’t act upon that yearning. Unasked, she was likely clueless to my fantasies.
I, underaged and supremely innocent, confidently wagered with Big Rick, our dorm residence assistant, for a six-pack of beer. “I bet I can win 20 games in a row.” This 18-yo Jewish suburbanite handily beat that 22-yo African American from Seattle’s Central Area on our ping pong bet, only to find that he who has the gun, sets the rules.
And what does one need to settle down, focus, and accomplish anything in this glorious life of self-professed value? All the stuff that I lacked at the time. Purpose. Discipline. A modicum of judgment earned from both experiences and some strange alchemy of interpretation of those experiences that produces proximations of wisdom.
Let’s call it preparation.