The weather this morning was perfect. It was cool, around 68F. It was dry. The sky was clear and the sun was shining.
And for some reason, it reminded me of my childhood.
I often crack my window at night when I go to bed. Lately, the breeze coming in has had a damp, organic scent to it - the smell of a Rochester summer. It smells like grass that was cut a couple days ago and fresh dew on the lawn.
Not surprisingly, this reminds me of last summer.
I’m having a really hard time adjusting to this summer, mostly because I know it can’t possibly live up to last year. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guys I’m living with now, but it would be hard to top last year. Everything was new and exciting. I was starting to take CS classes again (even if it did prove to be a mistake in the end). I started two new jobs. I got a new laptop and an iPod - toys to occupy myself with. I had a new apartment and three new roommates. I made a lot of new friends. On top of all that, I got to spend all my time with some of the closest friends I’d ever had.
It was an incredible summer, and I knew it wouldn’t last long into the school year. That’s always the hard part about things going so well - you know that they’ll have to go back to normal sooner or later. This past year was lackluster at best. I had a lot of fun, but things just got stagnant quick.
This shouldn’t be a big deal; life is full of ups and downs. Unfortunately, the ups were so great that they made the downs all the worse.
I’ve always been jealous of people that see reruns of some old TV show and get all excited because they watched it all the time when they were kids. I can remember watching Thundercats and GI Joe when I was a kid, but I don’t remember any of the details - character names, plot lines, anything. This itself isn’t important, but it’s a perfect sample of my childhood - I remember being there, I remember things happening, but I don’t remember any details. My childhood is a blur. I know I didn’t particularly care for middle school, largely because I was the geek in my class. When there’s only 17 kids in the class, and you’re the geek, you find yourself at the ass end of every joke and insult.
Things didn’t change in high school, because I hadn’t changed. There were more people around, so I could find people to hang out with who I got along with, but I still felt like I was the geek that no one particularly cared for. I had accepted things for what they were and wasn’t really unhappy with it, but I wasn’t too pleased either - an indifferent contentedness, I guess.
By senior year, I had changed significantly, and I had a real hard time because people still saw me for who I was when they met me, three years earlier. I couldn’t wait to get out and start over in a college where I knew no one. I started calling myself Brock and changed who I was. I had incredibly high hopes for college and couldn’t wait to leave everyone I knew behind.
When you build something up in your head like that, it almost always disappoints. Unbelievably, RIT exceeded every expectation I had. There were some 3,000 freshman (compared to the 320 people in my high school), so I had no trouble finding people that I got along with. I found I could act like myself, and people accepted me for who I was. I had the opportunity at a first impression, and it went better than every other one I’d had.
I’d like to think that the people I’m close to now honestly like me for who I am, but even now, I can never shake the feeling that people are just kind of tolerating and humoring me. I got so accustomed to being the geeky kid that I’m always leery of people that are genuinely decent to me; part of me is always waiting for the practical joke they’ve been setting up for. So far, I haven’t been the butt of any colossal joke that’s been four years in the making, so I think I’m OK, but I still can’t shake the feeling.
Anyway, I mention all of this because things have become stagnant. College was supposed to be the defining period in my life, the four or five years that would leave me with great memories and hilarious stories. Apparently my childhood was an inconsequential non-event, because I don’t remember it, and high school was a four-year exercise in patience. The past four years have largely been ups and more ups, with a few plateaus. The tail end of first year and the beginning of second year were incredible, and my second year kind of leveled off. Third year was generally good, with this past summer to cap it off. This past year, though, has mostly been more of the same. I’ve made a few new friends and done this co-op, but I also found that I hated the classes I was taking. I drifted away from, and (in some cases) found myself at odds with, some close friends.
With only five months left at RIT, these shortcomings are becoming more obvious by the day. College lived up to all the hype at the beginning, but I don’t want to leave on a down note. I don’t have many fond memories before the age of 17, so this was supposed to be it. Four neatly wrapped years of happy memories and close friends to define my adulthood and who I am.
I fear I may have wasted it all freshman year, and now I’m just coasting it out. I don’t know what I’m going to do once I’m done here, because this is the only place I’ve ever really been happy.