A Trick of the Light

I finally retired last night sometime between three and four. I fell fast into sleep, into a world of vague and empty dreams, a world free from all the distress and anxiety that has overwhelmed me during the day and deep into the night. When my alarm went off this morning, I wearily opened my eyes, turned it off, and sent a text to my mom to leave a half-hour later than planned. I needed the extra sleep.

It took me four trips to bring everything downstairs and about four more to load the car. As I got inside, I found my anxiousness had mostly dissipated–but the day was still beginning.

The truth is time flies quickly.

We stopped at the used bookstore (where I ran into a friend from campus) to sell some old books and CDs and to buy some new ones; I got a lot more store credit than I’d expected, so I was able to buy the first book in the Scott Pilgrim series and the entire Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix. I haven’t yet read anything of either, but I’ve heard both highly acclaimed enough to know they can help me reach my reading goals for the year. Oh, I also got a book on math–and not a textbook, mind you, but a book on math. It excites me.

Then we went to the bookstore on campus, and since I missed the deadline to pre-order my books online (since I hadn’t known there was one), I got to experience what it feels like to shop at the N.C. State bookstore. And I conclude: The fact that you can’t spend financial aid on school supplies is not only troublesome, but idiotic. Regardless, I not only got to see a friend and classmate while I was there, but I spent some time (maybe too much time) paging through various math textbooks, or as I liked to think of it, “grazing.”

Then we had lunch.

And finally I moved back in on campus. All this time it still felt markedly rushed, even while I was explaining in the car how my one math class starts off looking at GCDs and LCMs (my mom said, “That’s going far back!”) and then gave a short discussion about why it’s sometimes useful to change the rules of math to do our bidding (because, you know, we can, so therefore we’re morally obligated to do so unless a good reason dictates we shouldn’t).

My pressure was mounting again, however, as time approached to lead the first core meeting for NCPIRG. I got dropped off right outside the library. After saying my farewells and starting to head toward the building, that’s when it struck me.

It felt right to be here.

Last night I had been nervous, anxious and overwhelmed, uneasy and distressed. But here as I walked forward, marveling at the gorgeous campus around me, it felt as if everything had fallen right into place. Instantly any trace of unease vanished and I was able to breathe in the cool, fresh air of belonging.

But I was still running late, so I hurried along–and got stopped by another friend on the way! It was a mark of my prevalence, for better or worse, at Guilford Tech that I could hardly step foot on campus without running into somebody I knew or somebody who knew me. In comparison, last semester felt lonesome, as if the only people I knew were classmates (and at that rate I only knew them well at the end anyways), and here it is my first day home–yes, home–and I’ve run three times into unexpected encounters with friends.

It felt good.

And then the meeting, despite all our confusion and uncertainty (and my lingering feeling that we missed something crucial and are not nearly as on point as all of us would like to be and probably as we should be), went rather well. Better even, I’m starting to feel a stronger connection with NCPIRG, perhaps not with all of their campaigns or all of their methods, but definitely with our lead campaign and definitely with the other interns.

It’s exciting.

And then I rushed over to copy editing, and I must admit, it felt good to be back on the job. I saw new friends that feel now like old friends, and I got a compliment on my beard–that, perhaps, was one of the most wonderful moments of the day, if I do say so myself. I’m always amused, and rather too flattered, when people remark how red it seems, although I can’t admit I know why–and doubly so when they refer to it as “rusty”–and quadruply so when they ask to feel it, but you’d better be a good friend if you ask for that!

(I sometimes wish my rust-colored highlights would return, but they deserted me long before my hairline began to retire, so if I could only have one back, it probably wouldn’t be the highlights…)

During some downtime I began reading the posted syllabi I’ve been given access to. My morning class, Conservation of Natural Resources, is one I’m already in love with–just from reading the professor’s material, I can tell he’s a great guy and a good teacher. I’m passionate about the subject material, and his coursework doesn’t seem like it will be all that challenging if I keep up with the material and take good notes in class.

My tutoring class scares me, though. It’s a minimester, only eight weeks long, so it’ll move fast–and reading what’s expected, I’ve become somewhat nervous. The standards for tutoring here are much higher–just different–than at Guilford Tech. There the goal was to teach and guide students through the math to attain better skills and deeper understanding; here the goal is far more structured and procedural. Worst of all, part of the course is filming myself during a tutoring session and writing a self-evaluation after watching it.

I might’ve been sick right there in the office.

But then the next news story came in and I could forget about our DVD assignment. Self-evaluations? No problem! Recording myself and then watching myself and listening to the sound of my own voice? It’s nightmarish! I’d rather give a presentation before a thousand people while standing in my underwear than watch myself do anything.


I’ll probably do it, in fact I must, so for now I’m going to mull over my other concerns, which are silly and insignificant, but will keep me from worrying about being on camera.

Or I’ll finish unpacking and then go to bed. That’s probably the best option honestly. I’ve got a busy day ahead of me: Preparing a resume for a scholarship application, officially declaring NCPIRG a new student organization, and then most importantly, meeting a friend bright and early to exercise together.

It’ll be a great day. It feels like home already.

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