My dad once said, a girl goes to college to get her “MRS” degree. Then he found out how expensive the art school was I chose to go to and said, “Ok you’re getting a real degree!” SCAD was in Savannah, GA. One of my brother’s friends told me, “You have to get out of Wisconsin and experience the world or you will just be like everyone else.” So this pivotal moment in September of 1996, this naive 18 year old girl traveled over 1,000 miles to start a new chapter in her life. COLLEGE
Joe was told in his Plainsboro, NJ school, that he would be nothing more than a blue collar labor worker. They told him him he was learning disabled with no hope of a brighter future. They classified him because he learned differently than everyone else. He refused to believe this (however this label was embedded in his mind for a very long time.) He’s creative, a visionary with a million ideas. He wanted to go to art school. His dad did everything he could to make his son’s wish a reality.
We both arrived in the Savannah Civic Center for freshman registration and orientation. My process was smooth and easy sailing through the lines. Joe struggled and had to go to multiple buildings to get everything situated. My mom cried and didn’t want to let me go. His mom and dad got him situated in his dorm and then left to go to Florida to visit his Grandmother. My parents wouldn’t leave, his knew he would learn to survive. That first day was a swirl of emotions, meeting so many new people and room mates, realizing I get to make my own decisions. It was such a fantastic day!
The second day, after getting settled in the dorms, the school hosted a Freshman Mixer Dance. Just in case it wasn’t scary enough to be responsible for myself, “you mean, I’ve got to feed myself!?” plus figure out where I’m going to class, and all the new experiences going on…let’s throw in trying to date and be social!?! Ok, I got this. My roommate and I had met a girl from Chicago on the first day so the 3 of us Midwest girls were sticking together. All dressed up in my denim bib overalls and my farmer-girl braids, we were dressed to kill. We walk into the auditorium, music pumping, and we scanned the room for anyone that looked familiar. The girl from Chicago spotted one of the guys she met earlier sitting with another guy from Georgia. “Oh my gosh, we know someone, let’s go!” We sat down and started introducing ourselves and making small talk. “How are we supposed to talk with this music so loud? You guys want to come up to our dorm so we can get to know each other?” (Was I crazy? What was I thinking!?! So stupid, but hey, it’s college. Hahaha.)
So we all start standing up to leave when Joe starts sitting down. Prior to this he was getting his groove on dancing by himself on the stage. He had seen the same guy sitting with us, that he had met on a bus trip to Walmart earlier that day. “Oh, I know that guy!” Literally as we were standing up to leave, he was sitting down, that pivotal moment, a few minutes difference or a look in the other direction and we could have missed each other. “Can I come to?” Joe said in a shy hesitant voice. “Sure, why not!” I motioned to him. As we’re walking to the dorm, my parents were in the lobby, waving like I just finished my first piano recital. “Um, let’s go this way.” as I directed everyone in the opposite direction.
Up in our dorm on the 5th floor, the six of us (3 girls and 3 boys, how convenient) chatted, laughed, bragged, and compared stories. At one point, I don’t know why, I announced I’m really good at giving massages. WHAT!?! Of course, Joe jumped at the opportunity to test this skill. An hour after I met him, I was straddling his back giving him a massage over his shirt. We were rudely interrupted by the RA announcing the 10pm curfew was approaching and the boys had to leave. I opened the door and let the boys out. Then like a teenage romance movie, I closed the door, leaned up against it and sighed with a huge smile on my face. Ahhhh… Ok, now for the important stuff…which girl liked which guy? Amazingly, we each picked a different guy so no fighting was necessary. Out of the six of us, Joe and I are the only ones still together.
It was meant to be. We couldn’t wait to meet each other.
(Funny thing, I got my BFA and my MRS degrees)