Archives for posts with tag: college

In response to the one word prompt, Price.

Dunce

My daughter is in her senior year of college at VCU in . Technically she’s still a Junior, but she took a lot of college courses in high school, and now she gets to graduate a semester early. She will move that tassel and toss her hat in December of this year.

We found out last week that VCU is in the middle of a housing shift. They are closing down two rather large dorms, and making several dorms that used to be for upperclassmen, strictly freshman dorms. My daughter, who was supposed to get her housing assignment last Friday, instead found out that she is without housing.

VCU ran out of space leaving more than 1,000 students with no other option than to find an apartment.

That might be fine and dandy for some folks with six figure incomes and shiny Lexus’ in their driveway, but for us, this is not an option. You see, when my daughter lives in the dorm, the fee becomes part of her tuition, so it’s easy to pay for with student loans and housing grants.

Not so with rent. That $500 or more per month would have to come out of pocket. If I had and extra $500 a month I’d be driving a car with less than 275,000 miles on it. If I had an extra $500 a month my youngest daughter would have braces. If I had an extra $500 per month I would have a stove that dated earlier than 1980.

My husband called the housing office and spoke to a manager explaining our financial situation. He made her laugh, and she promised to try and help us find on campus housing. Yet when my daughter spoke to her advisor, she said not to get her hopes up about housing. Chances are they are going to award rooms to students who need them for the whole year, and we only need it for the one fall semester.

Her options are to commute, which she can’t do, because we don’t have an extra vehicle or to take all online courses and live at home.

Now, plan B would’ve been a dream for me when I went to college, but unlike me, my daughter is very active on campus. She shoots video for Rams sporting events, she is in a honors fraternity, and she has a weekly radio show. She loves her life at VCU…and she would have to give all this up if she finished her degree at home.

She’d be paying the price for VCU’s inability to plan. I think that sucks.

All I can do is hope that somehow, she finds housing, because I don’t think she should have to give up all that she loves about college just because we aren’t Rockefellers.

 

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Take a Chance on Me.” – What’s the biggest chance you ever took? Did it work out? Do tell!

This one is sort of a “no duh” for me.

My freshman year at the University of Delaware was less than stellar. As I entered into my sophomore year I realized I wasn’t very happy there. I had few friends and felt as if I really didn’t fit into this semi-Southern, über Preppy atmosphere. Remember, I’m a loud-mouth from New Jersey.

I was seriously looking into transfering when I saw a flyer in the student center for the study abroad program. You could travel to Costa Rica, London, or Vienna. That sounded wonderful to me, so I attended the interest meeting. After gathering all the financial/travel information, I called my parents and ran the idea past them.

Dad was willing to let me go, but only if I went to Vienna because it was a hop, skip & jump to his homeland of Czechoslovakia. If I got accepted into the program it was decided that I would spend 3 weeks after the semester at my cousin Stello’s house in what is now Slovakia. I was so excited at the prospect of travelling to Europe and attending school! Seeing art and culture outside of the Eastern US was a dream come true!

But I was also scared. And I got more and more scared as the spring semester drew near. There were times when I seriously doubted whether or not I should go. I was going to be totally alone for months…no trips home, no familiar faces, and let’s not forget the language barrier. I was required to take at least one German course before leaving.

There was also a problem with credits. It turns out that the courses I would be studying while in Vienna would largely not apply to my degree. So it would almost be like a waste of the entire semester, except for the fact that I would be having a life-changing cultural experience.

Lots of the other students attending the program were equally miffed about the credits not being applicable and complaints were lodged. The University was going to decide if an acception could be made, and that’s when I made the deal with myself.

If the University allowed the credits to be used, I would go. If not, I’d back out.

Eight weeks later, with a month of German under my belt, I flew out of JFK airport on my way to Vienna. It was the scariest thing I’d ever done, but to this day, the most rewarding.

Not only because of all the sights I saw, and the people I met, but because I really learned that I could stand on my own. I could manage my own money, I could make my own travel plans, and I could get along in a city where I didn’t really know the language all that well.

I came back to school a junior, and a much different person. I had travelled. I was worldly. And the folks around me? They had spent their spring in Newark, Delaware. I’d been in Vienna, and Rome and Basel.

Oh, yeah, and Czechoslovakia. I really learned how to stand on my own there.

And here’s my parting advice…if your school offers this opportunity, TAKE IT.

tracy1

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This morning on the news, I saw something that really disgusted me to my core. Do you see the above photo? These signs were hung outside the Sigma Nu house at Old Dominion University right here in beautiful Virginia to “welcome” the incoming Freshman girls.

It raises a few questions for me, first of which is how the hell is this fucked up behavior still tolerated? Was there not ONE frat brother who was like, “Doood, this is NOT a good idea?”

Apparently not, because while we live in a world where political correctness runs rampant, having respect for women is seemingly off the table; it’s behavior excused as boys being boys! It’s just college fun n’ games! Whoo-hoo! Par-tay!

Let me tell you something. When I was a Freshman at University of Delaware, my roomates invited me to go with them to a party at the ATO house. Some guys they went to high school with were members. I was excited to be going…my first week at school and here I was going to a frat party!

I talked with one boy for an hour or two, and when he asked if I wanted to see his room, I said sure. Once inside the dark room, instead of the light being flipped on, the door slammed behind me and I felt several pairs of hands reaching out for me. Seems this little frat boy had a plan of attack with this other ATO brothers – namely get a girl to your room and let the gang bang begin!

Luckily I was able to claw my way out the door, but not before I was given a very hard shove to my back which sent me stumbling down a small set of stairs on the opposite side of the hallway. My shoulder strap on my dress was torn, and I had the start of a bruise on my knee.

I found my roomates and told them what happened and that I was going home. I also told them that I was going to complain to whichever dean I needed to in order to get these guys in trouble. They begged me not to, as their association with me, if I caused trouble, would mess up their great connection to one of the biggest frat houses on campus.

I was a freshman and wanted to make friends, so I stupidly allowed myself to be placated. After some kind words from the ATO house mother and apologies from the president of the chapter, I made my way back to my dorm feeling stupid and ashamed.

If this story sounds familiar, it’s because it is the same scenario as was in the now famously debunked Rolling Stone article. You know what? You will never be able to convince me that that story didn’t have any truth to it. I bet you there are tons of UVA alumni who could attest to some serious sexual assault at the hand of those darling little frat boys.

And what about that case going on in New Hampshire? More priveledged little jackholes who are smart enough to get into a prestigious school, but somehow don’t know the meaining of the word “no.” It boggles the mind the license boys and men feel they can take with the opposite sex. Senior Salute…sounds like a fine fucking American tradition!

To this day I despise the Greek system. So when Bill Maher made this speech in a recent episode of Real Time, I was practically giving him a standing ovation in my living room. In today’s society there is no room for this type of bullshit. Period.

And let me say this, if your son attends Old Dominion, and is a member of Sigma Nu? You need to take a very long look in the mirror and try to figure out where you dropped the ball in raising your son.

Now scroll back up and take another look at that photo. See the guy standing at the front door? If there is such a thing as Karma, he is a very pissed of father.


Epilogue – 9/1/2015

Just found this picture from the University of Delaware move in weekend. I am so ashamed that my alma mater has not changed since 1982 – they still let in priviledged shit heads.

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Last week I brought my daughter back to college. It was just the two of us, and we moved all of her belongings into her new dorm room. I thought about her move-in the year before, and realized how totally different her life is now.

One year back, she was “dating” a boy from Canada. The day we moved her in was the last day of his week-long stay with us; his last stay with us. I remember him awkwardly (and crookedly) pounding nails into the wall for her to hang some artwork. It left me wondering how many times this lad had swung a hammer in his life.

One year back I lectured her to get more involved on campus. She spent the majority of her freshman year on her bed skyping the dude in Canada, which I thought was a waste. She had made few friends during that year, so I urged her to seek out a club. I remember how proud I was when she called to tell me she was attending open houses for groups she had seen advertised on campus. That’s what the first week of school is all about.

And one year back the boy from Canada wasn’t happy that she was joining clubs and meeting new people. I told her that wasn’t a very good sign. She would frequently tell me about arguments between them, interspersed with her enthusiam for her newfound friends in her newfound fraternity.

And now it’s a year later. As I was pounding nails into her wall, I thought about the transformation my girl has gone through in the last 365 days.

She’s a member of Phi Sigma Pi, a national honors fraternity. She has friends that she goes out with. She participates in school activities, and is excelling in her studies. She also holds down a job. She spent the summer going on outings with her best friend from high school. And she broke up with the guy from Canada.

Her biggest milestone was getting her driver’s license. Yes, I know it’s a bit late for a college junior to just be getting her license, but to be honest, she really didn’t need it.

A year later, and it’s almost like she’s a different person. But she’s really not…she’s just the gal I always knew she could be once she got off her computer and joined the real world.

diplomat date

I’ve written in the past of my semester spent in Vienna, Austria – it was during the spring of my Sophomore year in college – 1984 to be exact. I was thin, and young, and single.

I had spent the afternoon at the Stadtpark enjoying the warmer weather and watching the ducks in the pond. I was heading back to the Graben, which was a large pedestrian mall off Stephansplatz, when a man approached me and asked in German for directions.

I began to answer him in German/English, when he smiled and said, “Hey, I’m American too.”

He was looking for the Graben, and since I was headed that way, I told him to follow me. We walked and talked, me explaining how I was a student studying abroad for the semester, he telling me how he was an American diplomat to Budapest visiting Vienna for the weekend.

Hmmm – a diplomat, eh? My somewhat sluttish roomates had had run ins with foreign diplomats in the past – big spending womanizers who got them drunk and tried to take advantage of them. In the case of my very loose roomies, they probably succeeded.

Once we reached the Graben he gestured to a cafe and asked if I would let him buy me a drink as thanks. I began to refuse, but he insisted, and I have to admit, I was enjoying his company. His name was Dave, and we sat outside and drank beer after beer, and got to know each other. I remember I was supposed to meet somebody to play volleyball that afternoon, and I totally blew it off.

It was getting late, and he asked if he could take me out to dinner. I have to admit, I was attracted to him. He was older…in his early thirties, and me? I was only 19. Not wanting our day to end, I agreed, and we set a time to meet a few hours later.

We dined at some outdoor restaurant in the city. I remember I didn’t eat much – I ordered a modest bowl of soup/stew. After dinner we went back to his car only to find it gone. He was furious because the car had diplomatic plates and shouldn’t have been towed.

We found out where the car had been towed to and took a cab there. He told me to not let on that he was fluent in German – we should just act like two Americans waiting for their car. It was a brilliant move.

We sat and watched while the two tow guys talked amongst themselves about how much to bilk us for in order to get the car back. Dave was listening, and understanding, every word exchanged between them. When they finally quoted him a rather large price, he began screaming at them in German. I don’t know what he said to them, but we were given our car back very quickly and without having to shell out as much as a single Groschen.

I was amazed by this man. The swarthiest men I’d seen at U of D wore plaid shorts with blazers and boat shoes at the football games. But this guy? He was as slicker than James Bond in my eyes.

It was very hard to say goodnight to him – he was headed back to Budapest the next day. As we stood outside the door to my Pension he asked me back to his hotel. It was very tempting, but I was a good girl.

I said no.

We exchanged addresses and wrote each other a few letters. I remember getting one on official US Diplomat stationery, which I thought was super cool at the time. I wonder if I still have that tucked away somewhere? I still have his photo in one of my old albums – it’s old and cracked. It’s hard to believe he sent it to me almost 30 years ago.

Diplomat

It’s one of those nights a girl just doesn’t forget…a whirlwind spring romance crammed into one magical, adventurous day. Do dudes remember days like that, or is that reserved for love-struck 19 year olds spending spring in Vienna?

Couple-in-bedMy daughter finished her freshman year at college last week, and I for one am glad it’s over. Not only did I miss my little baby girl, but she was living in a sort of roommate hell, and I just wanted her outta there and in her own room again.

It dawned on me fairly early on that her roomies weren’t the most wholesome of girls. The Sunday after Thanksgiving we returned our girl to campus. We had to help her up to her room to drop off laundry and left overs. She opened the door and we walked in on her one roommate, clad in nothing but a bra and pants, in bed with some dude who was also topless.

Hello! Why in the world would you risk being caught like that? It’s a “no duh” that your roomie is coming home – it’s the Sunday night after Thanksgiving! We left the lights off and averted our eyes, while they jumped under the covers. We quickly dumped all of her stuff on her bed and made a bee-line for the elevator. My youngest looked at me and said, “Well, that was a little more than I wanted to see. Talk about getting an education!”

I wish that were the only instance.

My little freshman was also subject to late night invasions. She told me her roomies would often bring home groups of people, many times way after midnight, where they would play music and eat food with no regard for how it affected my daughter. Granted, half the time she was up skyping her boyfriend, but still, for her it was quiet time that was now shattered.

When we dropped her off after spring break, we walked in to find her other roommate in bed with a dude. They were asleep (or pretending to be), but again it was super uncomfortable. And that scenario was repeated when we came to start packing up her room a few weekends ago. When I asked my daughter how often this happened, she said “all the time.” She also told me they would lay in bed and make out – like hard core making out – right in front of her.

Don’t these girls have any self respect?

And then there was the Great Flatiron Episode of 2014. Not only were these girls skanks, but one of them was flat out dishonest as well.

One of her roommates used a flatiron every day. She left it plugged in and draped across the spot where the mirror was. My girl tripped on the cord and knocked it on the floor, breaking it. She calls me and tells me what happened, and asked what she should do. I said to tell her you broke it because she left it in a dangerous spot, and that you’d pay her half of what it cost. Fair n’ square, right?

She calls me a few days later in a panic. Her roommate told her the flatiron cost $200 – which meant we would have to fork over $100. My stomach hit the floor. I figured there had to be a mistake. Short of a professional hair stylist, I couldn’t see the need for any average girl to have a $200 flatiron. I told my daughter that I wanted the make and model – I had to do some research on this.

When she asked her roomie to see the model, her roomie asked for my phone number…and her mom got involved. Ruh roh.

A few days later I was on the phone with her fast talking mom who told me that she was a hair professional and her daughter needed an expensive flatiron because she was left handed and would burn herself with the average flatiron.

What? Left handed scissors? Sure. But I’m fairly certain there is no such thing as a lefty flatiron. I was getting taken.

She also told me that she had looked everywhere on line and could not find this flatiron any cheaper than the original $200 price. I’ll be the judge of that sister.

I politely told her that I needed the make and model of the flatiron. End of chat. To that she said that her daughter had the box in her closet, and that her girl would give my girl the info I needed. A few days later photos of the box were emailed to me.

In less than 10 minutes I had surmised that yes, it was indeed a $200 flatiron. But I also found it new in the box on Amazon for $42.00.

FORTY-TWO DOLLARS. $47 with tax and shipping.

Amazon was having a %75 of sale on selected items, and her flatiron was one of the items. I emailed the link to my daughter, who sent it to her roomie, who never answered the emial. So I bought it anyway. I was not going to risk this sale ending before I got an answer from her.

Once it came I gave it to my daughter to give to her roommate with a note inside saying, “sorry for the delay – just pay the $23 before the end of the year!”

Do you think we ever got paid?

Nope. And get this.

That bitch went out and bought a brand new flatiron – laid it on her bed for all to see. I got her the EXACT same iron as she had before, but I think what she really wanted was the $100.

Not from me sister. Not in this lifetime. You may have ripped me off of $23 bucks, but I stuck to my end of the bargain. I was honest and made you whole, whereas you were deceitful and mean; a scammer trying to make a buck at the expense of your roommate.

Left handed flatiron, indeed.

We are hoping for better next year. My daughter will be living with 3 new gals, but she’ll have her own room.  So if things get crazy in the kitchen or living room, she at least has a place that will be her own.

 

vintage-teacherMy oldest daughter is in the home stretch of her freshman year. She will be home in her own room for the entire summer in 7 days – 7 short days. But first she needs to survive finals.

I found spring finals to be harder than the ones right before Christmas. Perhaps it’s because it’s not only the end of the semester, but the end of the entire school year. In addition to taking your tests and handing in final papers, you leave your room and your friends and come back to an entirely new scenario the following fall.

When I was a freshman my spring semester was a toughie. I had two classes that took up most of my time – American Art History and a basic dunce math class. By the time finals came around I was ready to throw both books into on-coming traffic on I-95.

The art history class was tough because the teacher spoke so fast. You wrote in a frenzied panic as she flipped through slide after slide. By the time the 90 minutes was over you were exhausted – and your writing hand felt like a club. Then you had to go home and make sense of the 23 pages of cat scratch you took down. Add to that the memorizing of names, dates and periods of at least 100 paintings, sculptures and architectural masterpieces.

I got a 99 on that final. The teacher actually wrote me a postcard saying she took the point off just because she hates giving 100s.

But Math? That was a totally different story. It was an idiotic freshman math class that everyone who didn’t place out had to take. And it wasn’t so much that the math was hard, it was the way they had the class set up that really messed with your brain.

The course was set up like a game of Russian roulette. There were 3 tests and a final. If you failed any one test, you failed the course. Even if you got 100s on every single test but you failed the final, you failed the course. And failure wasn’t your typical below 60 score. Anything below a 75 was considered an F. Most of the tests were 20 questions, so if my remedial math skills are correct, if you missed more than 5, you failed.

I saw kids drop like flies over the course of the semester, having been handed their “F” on one exam or another – I somehow managed to pass them all. The math final was the very last test I had to take that semester. As I solved each problem, I wrote my answers down on a sheet of scratch paper. After all the exams were handed in the professor revealed the answers on the overhead projector. This way you could know your fate without having to spend a few agonizing weeks waiting to get your results via the US postal.

As I worked my way down the sheet, I was putting an “X” next to my answers at an alarming frequency. By the time I’d gotten through checking half my test answers I’d already reached the dreaded five wrong. My stomach churned as I imagined my father’s wrath at me failing a course – a course that he’d shelled out good money for – and that I’d have to repeat.

Could I possibly have gotten the last 10 answers on my test right? There was no way…no way…wait, wait…WAIT!  As I checked my answer to question 20 and realized it, and the 9 before it, were all correct, I knew I’d passed the exam – and by the skin of my teeth. I whooped a gleeful cheer of victory, ran out of the building and drop-kicked my math book across the lawn. I stomped it and ripped pages out and made confetti and threw little tiny bits of x + y = (who gives) (a fuck) in the air over my head.

I was so incredibly relieved I almost cried. I walked back to my soon-to-be empty dorm room with the sun on my back and a smile on my face. My dad came to pick me up later that day and the ride home to Jersey was one sweet trip.

For ahead of me was a three month chill-pill. Ah, childhood summers…

HitchingMy oldest attends college an hour away – from door to door is actually a tad less than an hour. We’ll say 54 minutes. That being said, hubby still thinks it’s a colossal waste of gas and time to pick her up and bring her home for the weekend when her old mom is missing her. And it made me think back to my college days.

I lived in northern New Jersey, and attended University of Delaware. It was a 2+ hour trek down the Jersey Turnpike & I95. Yeah, neither mom or dad were picking me up for the weekend. If I wanted to go home, I had to find a ride. Enter the U of D Ride Board.

The Ride Board was hung in the student center – a large, wooden placard with a map of the US painted on it, divided into colored zones. There was a little box that corresponded to each zone that contained cards with folks who were traveling to that destination, or in need of a ride to that destination. When I had a hankering to get out of bobbed-hair-preppy-sweater Dodge and head north, this is where I went to find a way home.

So think about this – young, pretty college girl is looking for a total stranger to drive her 2.5 hours up the Jersey Turnpike. That alone is a scary thought. But half the time they’d drop me off somewhere odd…like a rest stop or a mall…and my parents would have to meet me there.

And remember, this is before cell phones, so if mom was late or we ran into traffic, there was no way to communicate. You just sat and waited…and worried.

When I was able to find a ride, I’d usually have to lug  my bags to their dorm. Yeah, there was no “hey, I’ll pick you up at 5!” It was more like, “Be outside X Hall at 5 or we leave without you.” Sometimes the car was filled with folks who all knew each other, and I just sat in the back forced to listen to their conversation and shitty music while I watched southern NJ fly by and handed over cash for gas at each rest stop.

Or worse, sometimes it was just you and the driver…talk about uncomfortable. You can only ask “what’s your major?” once, and the answer wasn’t going to fill 2 hours.

Then there was the trip back to worry about. I’d usually spend the whole weekend at home with a little nagging voice saying, “what if they don’t show up…what if they don’t show up?” Then mom or dad had no choice but to make the 5 hour round trip drive.

But somehow I managed to survive the U of D Ride Board – I probably used it a dozen times over my 4 years at college, and I was never propositioned, abducted or left hanging on the trip back.

There are tons of things we think back on and say, “It’s a wonder I reached adulthood.” Bikes with no helmets, long trips with the unused seatbelt dangling by the door next to you, unsupervised trips into New York City on the bus.

It makes you feel sorta lucky sometimes.

poloA few weeks back I posted about old boyfriends who have gone to the great beyond. I told the story of Andy, but never got around to the story of Paul. Let me share with you my brief, but awesome time with the Polo dude.

It was my freshman year at U of D. I was into weight lifting, an activity I started doing my senior year of high school in an effort to shed some pounds. My abs were rock hard, and I intended to keep them that way, so I frequented the weight room at the gym. This is where I met Paul.

He was cute, with sandy brown hair. He was not overly tall, and had a thin, yet muscular build – his arms were amazing. We began chatting over the fact that I had the sit-up bench at the highest incline – I think he was impressed. I noticed right away that his voice was sort of high – it almost made him sound girlish in a way. But I was never one to judge someone for something out of their control.

We became friends and met frequently at the gym. When I asked what dorm he lived in he said he lived off campus on his family’s farm about 30 minutes away. I pictured him in rubber boots swinging a bucket to slop the hogs – that must be why he had such good arm muscles. He said he had horses and asked if I’d like to come out and ride sometime. Sure, who wouldn’t? We set the date for the upcoming Saturday.

Paul showed up at my dorm bright and early to make the drive out to the farm. His car was nice. Really nice. I think it was a Mercedes, but I can’t remember. After a short drive and pleasant small talk, I was expecting to pull up to a modest farm house. That’s what I was expecting. Instead we turned down a private road with a carved wooden sign at the head of it – one thing engraved in the sign was the word “estate.”

Estate? Didn’t he say he lived on a farm? I suddenly questioned my earlier vision…I doubt there would be any pigs here.

We pulled up to a sprawling, cheerful, yellow and white house surrounded by acres and acres of green, rolling hills, and miles of fence. A sizable stable stood in the distance. Yep, this was no farm boy.

I was introduced to his mother, a beautiful, elegant woman with blonde hair and an accent. I can’t remember what country she originated from though. I just remember she was super nice, and very welcoming. I was also introduced to Paul’s father. I found him to be intimidating and somewhat cold. I made a mental note to stick with mom.

After a brief tour of the house, which included showing me a television that rose up out of a cabinet at the push of a button, we headed out to the stables. The stable was magnificent and housed quite a few horses. Paul led me into a large, and well stocked tack room where he found me riding boots, and a helmet. I began to get the distinct impression that Paul was loaded. Farm, indeed.

We went out riding, which was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. Usually when I’d been riding in the past, it was at a commercial stable where you paid by the hour and went out in a group. The guides told you when to walk and when to canter, that is, if they let you run at all.

But with Paul, we were able to do whatever we wanted when we wanted. I remember us giving our horses a slight kick and before I knew it, we were racing across the green hills, the wind whipping my hair back, my eyes shining with excitement.

We rode for about an hour – that was about all my ass could take. In that time I found out that Paul was not a simple farm boy. He was a polo player. His family had their own team, made up of his father and brothers. They spent spring and summer at the Pennsylvania estate, and spent winters in Palm Beach, Florida.

I immediately felt out of my league. Here I was, an average nobody from New Jersey and I was on a date with a polo player? But, Paul was very genuine, and extremely modest. This guy could easily had laid the “I’m rich” soft soap on me, but he didn’t. It was as if he was unaware of the advantages of his wealth – to him, he was just an average guy.

Once back at the stables, I had a hold of the horse’s bridle while Paul did something or another to take off the saddle. It was at this point that the horse lifted up it’s front leg, and put it back down, right on my foot. I felt immense pressure, and then heard a wee little “snap!”

Ruh roh. I yanked my foot out from under his hoof, which clacked back onto the floor. I could feel the swelling begin in my foot. I said meekly, ” Paul? I think the horse might have broken my toe.”

He set me down on a bench and immediately went to take the boot off. No! It was too painful! But, he said he had to before my foot swelled too much in the boot – then it would be near to impossible to get it off. It was awkward, and very Typical of Tracy. Only I could mess up a magical date with a rich, handsome polo player. But, Paul being the down-to-earth guy he was could care less. He fussed over me and my swollen foot the rest of the afternoon.

We continued to see each other over the next few weeks, usually just in the weight room, or he’d come watch me play intramural volleyball. One day he asked me if I would accompany him to a ball.

A fucking BALL.

As if that weren’t surreal enough, the ball was in South Carolina. And how were we to get there? Oh, we were to fly down on Friday night in his father’s private plane. His father would pay for the hotel, and all food for the weekend. So, would I come? I felt like a Slovak Cinderella. I told him yes, but admitted I was a bit worried about fitting in. He urged me not to worry about it…he liked me the way I was, and so would everyone else.

My mom sent me an appropriate dress from my closet at home, and I packed my bags for what would be an exciting weekend. I remember driving to a small airport, and boarding his father’s plane. I think I was chewing gum to ease my nerves. I’d never flown in a small plane at night, and while it was exciting, it was a tad scary too.

We landed without incident in South Carolina and drove to the hotel, which was very fancy. I got my own room, which felt so odd. I mean, it made perfect sense – we weren’t going to all shack up in one room with two double beds or anything. But this was hardly a Motel 6 – these rooms had to cost a couple of hundred bucks a night. It was humbling to think that someone had shelled out all this money just for me.

I don’t remember every detail from that weekend. I do remember going to the ball, and eating lobster bisque for the first time. And I remember Paul’s father telling me that I would be a lot prettier if I learned to put on my eye makeup better. Yep, it was a humbling experience, alright. I remember Paul coming back to my room after the ball, where I drew a sketch of him, and we watched TV until we finally said good night sometime in the wee hours of the morning.

The next day was like a page ripped right out of the script book of Pretty Woman, except it wasn’t written yet, and I wasn’t a prostitute. That day we attended a polo match and a fox hunt. Yes, you read that right – a FOX HUNT. Here I was, a girl who lived just steps from the swamps of Jersey at a fox hunt in South Carolina polo country. Talk about feeling like a fish out of water.

But, I had Paul by my side for the majority of the day. I watched him play his polo match, mashed the divots back into the ground between chukkas, and made uncomfortable small talk with girls who had much better clothes and hair than I did. But watching Paul play polo? It was worth enduring the snubbery. He was so masterful at controlling his horse, and it was no wonder his arms were so fabulous after watching him swing that polo mallet.

After his game, we decided to blow off the Fox Hunt – yeah, like I was going to ride to the hounds. Instead, Paul saddled up two horses and we took our own ride along the back roads. Once or twice we ran into the hunt – saw throngs of red-coated riders gallop by – but for the most part we spent a quiet afternoon talking and enjoying the scenery.

It had been an indescribable weekend. We flew back to Delaware, and I sat in a sort of awe, thinking of all the new things I’d been exposed to. I’d really enjoyed myself, not only because I’d lived the life of a society princess for a few days, but because Paul had been by my side the whole time. I truly valued his company – his friendship.

Shortly after that weekend, Paul informed me that he was returning to Palm Beach on a permanent basis. He wasn’t doing well academically at U of D, and was leaving school. I was bummed, but not devastated. While I really liked Paul a lot, I always felt uncomfortable around his family. I got the feeling that they thought I wasn’t the right girl for him. Except for his mom. She was always very, very nice to me.

As a matter of fact, she came to my dorm room the next semester. Paul and I had written and called over the months since he’d left, so she knew where I’d lived. She handed me a poster for the Palm Beach Polo Club, and there in the center, swinging his polo mallet with all his might, was a photo of Paul. I’d know that muscular arm anywhere. I thanked her warmly, and we chatted for a while. She left promising to give Paul a hug and kiss for me.

That poster hung on my wall both at home and at school for years. It finally got so torn and tattered that I threw it away. Like so many other things, I wish I hadn’t. It would be nice to look at it again. To see that strong arm, and his face with that look of concentration and determination.

I was sad when I read he had died, and only in his 40’s. He was such a nice fellow, so real and down-to-earth. He deserved better – a long life with a pretty wife and kids that he could lift laughingly onto the backs of ponies. It would be cool if I could let him know I think about him from time to time. To let him know he made a very cool memory for an average girl from Jersey.

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The other day I was thinking about college, and an old boyfriend popped into my head. It was odd because I hadn’t thought about him in years and years, and yet our few dates were super memorable. I thought to myself, this is worth blogging about! So I began to Google him, hoping I could find an image or some bit of info I could include as an epilogue of sorts, i.e. “Paul is now married with 45 children living in Spokane, Washington.”

Well, I found out information, but it certainly was a bummer. Turns out Paul died back in 2007 from Lupus.

It makes me wonder if I’ve already begun to get to “that age” where old flames and friends begin to head to the great beyond. Paul isn’t the first ex-boyfriend of mine to die too young. Back in the 90s while scanning the obits section of my college alumni newsletter I was horrified to see a name I recognized, and recognized well.

It was the name of this guy Andy that I had a crush on for all of my Freshman, Sophomore and Junior years, when we dated on and off. We dated seriously after college for a few months, and parted on not so great terms during the summer of 1988. And now there I was with my stomach pooled around my feet staring at his death notice.

They were both so young. Especially Andy. We were around the same age and I was only in my 30’s at the time I read that he had died. I wondered what the cause had been – sickness or perhaps an accident? I wouldn’t find out until years later that he’d died of AIDS. That made me doubly sad.

Typical of Tracy, I feel the need to share my memories of these two fellows – my version of a memorial to the short time they were a part of my life. For now I feel that I have to start with Andy.

I met Andy my freshman year at the University of Delaware. He was short, and stylish and very, very cute. He had brown curly hair, a great smile, and originated from Long Island – perhaps our shared accents helped us to hit it off. He always had girls buzzing around him, leaving him messages on his dorm room memo board, and walking with him on campus, so I had a lot of competition.

We never did much but “hang out” that first year; ate at the cafeteria a few times, and I helped him type a paper once where I made so many mistakes I used about a gallon of White Out. I was just glad to spend any time with him. If we ran into each other at a party, he would usually talk to me for a good while. I knew he liked me, but wasn’t sure if he was interested in dating me, so I played it cool on the surface.  But I’ll tell you – I adored him.

Sophomore year was when we first dated. I’d been seeing this guy Rick who I liked, but wasn’t really nuts over when I ran into Andy. We talked for a while over a few beers, and he admitted that he liked me. Would I be interested in taking our relationship to a higher level? Would I! Where do I sign? This was a dream come true.

Unfortunately, I was scheduled to take a semester abroad in Vienna in just a few months. I’d be away for too long a time to think that the relationship could last. Regardless, we dated semi-casually that fall. It was a good thing that it was semi-casual…Andy wasn’t the best boyfriend. He was always busy, and rarely called – I didn’t see him too often at all.  But when he showed up at my door, I’d turn to jelly. Man, there was something about him…

Before I left for Vienna he gave me a little ring to remember him by. It was nothing…just a plain metal wire, really…but I loved it. He promised to write me and I did the same. We murmured “I love you’s,” and I left for Christmas break knowing I wouldn’t see him again until the following fall. I wrote him at least a dozen letters while I was in Vienna, and didn’t receive even one in return. Not even a postcard. And the ring? It broke. I took it as an omen that Andy was probably not my boyfriend any longer.

Enter junior year. It was the first week of school and I was out shooting photos for my intro to Photography class. There was some sort of “welcome back” festival going on, and the quad was crammed with people and events. That’s where I saw him. I was thrilled to run into him so early in the semester. This was the days before cell phones and facebook, and it wasn’t always easy to find old friends at the beginning of a new school year.

I happily ran up to him and gave him a hug. It was then that I saw the girl. He introduced her as “his girlfriend Dana” and I cheerily greeted her, chatted nonchalantly about my summer, and made small talk about our upcoming year. I was trying very hard to act cool; to act as if I could care less that he had a girlfriend. I teased him about not writing me once while I was abroad – that was more to show off in front of his plain Jane girlfriend. I even took a picture of them; Andy and Dana with his dog Rita between him – I could crop Dana out later.

When I got back to my dorm I took the broken ring out of my jewelry box and threw it over the balcony. It soared down three floors and landed somewhere on the grassy slope below. It was my “see ya sucka” moment – the moment I had washed my hands of Andy once and for all.

Yeah, right.

A few days later he called me. He begged my forgiveness, he was breaking up with Dana, blah, blah, blah. I should’ve laughed in his face! I had proudly cleansed myself of him!

But when Andy was concerned I had a very hard time saying no. He was just so cute…I was really quite defenseless. Hours later we were “back together” and I was on my hands and knees searching for the ring in the grass below my dorm.

Can you believe I actually found it?

Nothing much had changed, though. Andy was still a bad boyfriend, rarely calling and only having time for me when it suited him. So I grew a spine and just forgot about him. There was no big break up or final moment. He just never called and I stopped caring.

Now fast forward to Christmas 4 years later. I had sent Andy a Christmas card…I had sent cards to a bunch of old friends from college that year. To my surprise, he called. We chatted on the phone for hours. He was living in Delaware and working as a high school teacher in Elkton, MD but was coming home to Long Island that weekend…could we meet? That old Andy electric current zinged right through me again, and I readily agreed.

We had a blast. We caught up on the past four years and laughed about our doomed college romance. He admitted that he was a pretty shitty boyfriend back in the day, and I joked that I followed him around like a puppy. He made me promise to come down to Delaware to see him the next weekend which I did.

I still remember that trip. There was traffic on the Turnpike, and I was more than an hour late getting to him. We met at a club, and I can remember walking in full of apologies, and he just grabbed me and kissed me. Oh, he was so handsome. We cuddled and danced (to Anita Baker’s Sweet Love) I remember thinking that maybe it was worth going through all the college bullshit to get to this right now. He’d grown up, and now he was mine.

We dated for a few months, and there were some really great times. We did a walk-a-thon over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge with his school. We played in the snow with his dog. But slowly, the old Andy began to creep back into the picture. I’d drive down to Delaware and he’d forget that he had things to do over the weekend, and I’d spend my time either sitting in his apartment alone, or coming along on some expedition that I had little interest in, and where he had little time for me.

Then during the 4th of July he was supposed to stop by my house on his way up to Long Island. I waited and waited for hours, and he just never showed. He never called either. I finally gave up and went to a barbecue at my sisters. Later that night I got in touch with him. He said that he got a late start and didn’t have the time to stop. What killed me is that he drove right past my street….and didn’t even bother to stop.

I told him to fuck off. I was done wasting my time with him. This time I really did write him off. I hung up the phone and I never spoke to him again.

And there was his name on the obits page in the Delaware Messenger.

It was tough. I’d spent a lot of years having Andy in my life, and it was sorrowful thing to know he was gone. He was a lousy boyfriend, but I think everyone has someone like Andy in their life at some point. Someone, who for reasons known only to nature and God, you are unequivocally attracted to. A person to whom you cannot help being drawn to, like a moth to a flame.