I dropped out of college after one week. I was in Fargo which was a telltale factor, and my resident advisor tried to save me. We had a “divine appointment with God.” I can chalk the whole experience up now as too much, too fast, too soon. Back in those days I wanted change so much, but flinched when it actually came to pass.
When I told my dad of my plans to drop out he understood and said something along the lines of, I know what it’s like to be somewhere you don’t want to be. He picked me up from Fargo and the ride back to Minneapolis was the longest (and quietest) I have ever experienced. We even stopped and ate Chinese food. During lunch, there were no lectures, no evil looks, and most importantly, no questions. As long as I wasn’t running away from something, I was able to go home.
But what was I running to? At the time, the last place I wanted to be after North Dakota was at home with my parents; I wanted out of the suburbs. I think I wanted to find myself, but that September instead of books and pencils, I got a job assembling cables for a neighbor. As the months grew colder I slid into desolation and despondency. I thought my life was tragic and I extracted myself from the world I thought I would live in.
I became a townie. I had two friends who stayed in town after graduation and the three of us would go to Denny’s every Tuesday and then catch some TV and play cards. My weekends were spent going back and forth to visit a good friend away at college. I lived in the suburbs; I made friends in the suburbs, partied in the suburbs, and lost myself in the suburbs. I hung out in Wal-Mart parking lots and went to the city to cruise. I went to bonfires, house parties, and the refinery to watch it twinkle like Emerald City. Somewhere along the way I even got banned from a country line dancing bar.
These days I don’t regret not getting a traditional education. Sure, dorm life would have been a hoot and I would have my diploma on a mantel somewhere near a cap’n’gown picture with my parents. A year and a half doing cable assemblies does teach you the importance of education. As a grown-up I take community college classes when I can and hope to get a four year degree by age thirty.
It’s hard to put my finger on what I learned from coming of age in the suburbs. It know it wasn’t street smarts or anything. I guess there were a few lessons. Sometimes you need your family when you don’t want to. Sometimes unlikely friends will become best friends before you know it. Sometimes you can fight to get out of the city you grew up in and come to miss it when you leave.