When school resumed I chose a schedule that would put my classes first thing in the morning. I never had classes any later than noon. By senior year I had only one class left to take in my major so I was pretty well set. I never chose a minor because I really was interested in the idea of a liberal arts degree. I took a lot of different things: psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, finance, geology, religion, accounting and then I took about four classes each in art and English. Most of my senior year was electives. That gave me a lot of leeway in scheduling.
My routine was to wake up at 10:00 p.m. and go to work. By the fall I had the audit nailed so it didn't take me too long to knock it out. Depending on how full we were it might take an hour and a half to three hours at the beginning of the shift, and then another hour to hour and a half at the end of the shift. That left a lot of time in the middle to study, write papers, or watch TV. During those hours I was basically babysitting the motel in the middle of the night so I had to occupy my time one way or another. It was the perfect job for a student.
Sometimes I'd have visitors into the wee hours. And by visitors I mean motel guests who would come in after my shift started and sit down in the lobby, which was right by the counter where I worked. They'd start with idle chatting and soon we'd be engrossed in conversation. At least a dozen times I had people who stayed until the wee hours of the morning, 3:00 a.m. or 4:00 a.m. just chatting.
My friends often took advantage of the fact that they had a night owl available. They didn't come see me but they'd call me. Usually I got the calls after they'd spent an evening out partying or having a good time. I'd get the postmortem on their activities. That gave me the opportunity to live vicariously through them. I was the Dear Abby of the night shift. Or they'd call me when they couldn't sleep for whatever reason. It was a way of keeping in touch. Mike was the one who called me most often, followed by a high school friend in my home town.
After work I'd go home, or if I had an 8:00 a.m. class I'd hop on the bike and head onto campus. I usually parked my bike at the student center closest to where I arrived and walked the rest of the morning. When classes were over I rode home and went to bed. Rinse, repeat.
I was usually given Mondays and Tuesdays off. For the most part I tried to maintain the same sleeping schedule so that my body wouldn't go completely out of whack. The whole time I worked as a night auditor I longed for the day I'd have a normal schedule like everyone else. But working nights has it's advantages. Like going to the grocery store at 7:15 a.m. You can't beat that. Or hopping on my bike during the summer and taking off for a ride before the rush hour traffic started to take over the roads. It wasn't all bad. However, sometimes it was a serious challenge. Like when I had to pull those 28-33 hour days to see visitors. Or when a seminar or study group was scheduled for 4:00 p.m. (2:00 a.m. to me). It was also hell on me when we got daytime phone calls. B was pretty respectful of my schedule, thank goodness.
When fall and cooler weather arrived my grandparents took pity on me and loaned me their little red pickup truck. I loved driving that truck. It was a light truck so it didn't do any good for snow or bad road conditions, but I loved sitting up in that cab and being the chick in the truck. Having the truck made my life so much easier.
1990 brought my worst birthday ever. I turned 21 alone. Completely alone. My birthday often fell during fall break and such was the case that year. All my friends had gone home. My roommate went to see her boyfriend. Mom and Dad sent me flowers. I took a picture of them and kept it. I can't remember if I worked that night or not, but it was no fun at all. A couple of weeks later I was able to get a weekend off and went home and had a birthday celebration there.
Christmas greatly improved over the previous year. My family broke with the tradition of Christmases past and drove down to be with me Christmas Eve because I had to work. Still, I remember that Christmas fondly, partly because it was something different. We walked down DOG street and took in all the colonial decorations on the houses. There were lantern tours going on and perhaps some caroling. Then my Dad took us out to eat at Captain George's Seafood Buffet and blew his Christmas bonus on us. We all ate until we were stuffed like ticks ready to pop. Then we came home and they went to bed and I went to work. The next morning when I got home we all piled in the car and they took me home for Christmas celebrations and their house, and with the rest of the family. I would have had two days off for it all.
In January I bought my first car, using my student loan money for living expenses. It was an old Ford Thunderbird, and had been very well kept. It was a fine car for my circumstances and it served me well for a couple of years. Within the first two weeks of getting it I got my first speeding ticket. Idiot. On the drive home from picking it up I was pretty sure I was getting a wobble at 65 mph. A couple of weeks later I was testing that on the open road, thinking I was in a 55 mph zone. It was a 45 mph zone. Oops. Thankfully he wrote me up for speeding instead of wreckless driving. Lesson learned.
Spring semester my life didn't change much. I was working, studying, going to classes, and sleeping. I was occasionally able to fit in a fun activity, but I usually had to sacrifice sleep for it. Mike and I did lunch on a fairly regular basis. He made such an effort to keep in touch with me and try to keep me in the loop. I was still in Circle K and was able to make some of their meetings. I even went to the convention that year.
The overwhelming emotion of my senior was loneliness. I was so alone. I look back at the few journal entries I wrote that year and the major themes were loneliness and "I need to lose weight" (always!) My life was out of sync with everyone else's and I felt cut off from them. I had no real confidant, other than Mike. As far as dating, or anything of that kind, I was screwed. I was still married. Once there was a cute guy from one of my government classes who asked me to study with him. I got dressed really nicely and did my hair and everything. However, I kind of killed the evening when I mentioned the part about still being married. Go figure.
By working I was not only supporting myself, I was paying down my credit card debt that Don had created. By the time I graduated I had paid off all $800 on my credit cards.
I recently looked at my picture in the yearbook my senior year. It was the only year I went to have my picture taken and I didn't take it very seriously. I looked like hell. My hair looked like shit, I was pale and my smile was barely there. I really didn't make much effort so it's no surprise I looked bad. But it kind of breaks my heart when I compare it to the other seniors who looked so polished and happy. You can almost see the anticipation and hunger for life radiating out of their faces. I look like...eh.
By the time graduation rolled around I had been at the motel for over a year so I had earned some vacation. I went to the beach with Mike and some of the Circle K gang (5 of us). We crammed ourselves in one room. We had a really nice time. Unfortunately because of the boy/girl ratio I had to sleep on the floor. It was really unfortunate because I just can't do it. I never could sleep. I remember one morning at 5:00 a.m. giving up the struggle. I got in my car (I had driven everyone down) and drove out to Jockey's Ridge, which is an area of giant sand dunes on the island chain. I walked up the highest dune and sat and watched the sunrise, alone as always. It was a beautiful moment etched in my mind forever. I could see the whole island from up there. It was...absolutely beautiful.
Despite my taking Accounting 101 my final semester, I did graduate. Somehow I missed the part about that being a weeder class. I was so scared I'd fail that class. I remember going to my professor right before final exams and having a heart to heart with her. I told her that if she would just let me pass so I could graduate I would never, ever, ever tell anyone that I had taken her accounting class. She tried to reassure me and expressed faith that I could pass the final. Two days before the final, after banging my head against the wall all semester, I had an epiphany and that accounting crap finally made some sense. I did pass my final, after all.
I made the honor society in my major, but missed the induction ceremony and dinner. I didn't miss it because of work, but because the invitation missed me. I found out about it after the fact. I was inducted in absentia. Pffffft.
I graduated on time, with all my friends, against awesome odds. My family came down and supported me en masse. It was a victorious day for all of us. It's just too bad that the damned graduation ceremony was four hours long and only a few of them had the stamina for it. When I went to the satellite ceremony for my major Noni and Popi were there to see me get my diploma. Everyone else had gone back to my apartment to wait for the party. It was done.
Sadly, my married name is on my diploma. I tried to have that changed but they wouldn't do it without a divorce and legal name change. It doesn't really matter all that much because my whole diploma is in latin and I can't read it anyway. But in that small way I was robbed of the full glory for having finished strong.
And as for a divorce...well...you'll have to check out the next installment to find out about my divorce, and what became of Don.
Labels: college years