Sunday

I am all but enrolled in classes. I’ve been accepted to the University of Central Florida, and I’m immunized and approved for an orientation session. I’ve even changed my major already! Actually what I did was I declared. I changed from undeclared to creative writing. I might change to sociology though. (Or MAYBE information systems technology or teaching or health information management OR...OR...OR...)

I’ll start out this summer with just one class, I think. I don't want to strain myself. My first class, hopefully, will be a creative writing class, creative writing for English majors - it's a prerequisite for some other classes I want to take. If I can’t get in that one, I’ll take one of these terrific and fascinating sociology classes.

I earned a B.A. in '96, and I’ve gone back to school since then, and I've made false starts. I took some drafting classes around ‘98-'99, some AutoCAD. I never did anything with it. Back in 2002 I was looking into University of Maryland and George Mason - when I lived in metro DC. I even sent in a financial aid form. I never did follow through on that however.

Friday I went to the UCF campus to run an errand, and as I walked around, I felt pretty old. I'm almost twice as old as the incoming freshmen. I felt pangs of absurdity. But. Whatever. Age is just a number. It's how you feel, right? Your spirit. All ages are allowed. You can only feel humiliated if you let yourself feel humiliated, somebody once said. It's not like they all stopped what they were doing to stare and point at me and laugh. Not yet anyway. Any humiliation I would feel would be self generated.

There were other older folks there. A few. I studied them carefully. I don't know if they were faculty or staff or old-ass geezers like me re-entering college or entering for the first time or what. Some of them looked like they were trying to look or act young. Some of these oldsters looked like they were trying to dress or accessorize like the kids there. Or they arrived on scooters or or bicycles or those big-ass skateboards they ride now a days. For a second I thought, wow, now that's pretty pathetic. Man, be yourself. Wear your no-logo clothes, and wear your comfortable, affordable shoes and be old with pride. But I quickly corrected my thinking, I quashed the ridicule working up in my head. These snap judgments occur to you, you don't necessarily summon them, and you gotta ignore them. Who the hell am I to judge? I don't want people looking at me and thinking I'm ridiculous. I don't know, you know? I wanted to walk up to my fellow old dudes and talk to them. Hey, fellow old...dude! How are ya holdin up? How are your bones? Getting enough calcium? What's it like around here? Don't let these youngsters push you around!

I'm hoping I can take most of my classes online. I'll need to go on campus some - to go to the library. I'm not incredibly uncomfortable going to the campus - I don't know. I don't know how I feel about it. When I went to ODU, there seemed to be a lot of people in their thirties, forties, fifties, plus - especially in the evening classes. ODU was a commuter school. People from all over Hampton Roads went to school there - people looking to change careers or improve their skills or whatever. Back then, when I was around twenty, and I was taking classes, and I saw people in their thirties and forties and higher in my classes...I used to follow them to their cars after class and strong-arm rob their asses. Ha ha, nah, actually, the observation of their apparent age went no further than any surface observation like hair color, eye color, height, whatever. It didn't mean anything to me. Universities are supposed to be open places, right? Open to anybody who wants to learn or teach or both.

7 comments:

lluviation said...

i don't know about the age thing...i've spent time around these "youngsters" and when they think i am around their age they comment on the older students...how they are older. sometimes, how that is weird. but old to them is like "27." then when they find out that i'm older than old to them, they point out that age doesn't really mean anything.

i think it has a lot to do with perception. since i can "pass" for my early 20s, they don't really consider me any older than how i look to them. even when i tell them, insist, and show my i.d.

i also think it is how they relate to the world. most (not all) people in their late teens and early 20s have had very limited interaction with adults older than them who treat them like peers. even in college, they are still in a subordinate relationship with the teachers. as they should be! but...they are still getting use to the idea of being adults. AND they are still mostly with their age-peer group. so, when they meet someone who is older that they can relate to, that person doesn't seem "old" but when they think of that age, they perhaps have an idea of what 27 means, or 32, or 37, or 45...etc, and that sees old to them. of course they reach that age and realize that they still don't really know what the fuck they are doing, what life means, and they still feel young....then they realize their former ideals were ridiculous. but they haven't gotten to that point yet.

so to conclude my mini-essay, they will think you are old, they might think that is weird, they will probably be able to relate to you in some way, which will be weird for them as well, but they won't admit it....they might even wonder why the hell you are taking classes with them...but i guess it all boils down to that it doesn't really matter, because their perception is one of inexperience and will soon change in a few years anyway.

Billy said...

good for you man. i am much older than most of the people in my classes but they can't tell. it is actually really freaky. last night i went to get beer and the guy smiles and says in a low voice are you old enough? and i say yes of course. and he says are you 21 and i say man you wouldn't believe my age.

PoisOn CoAtEd ELiXir said...

What I'm most intrigued about is a majors in creative writing. Don't burn yourself about the reactions which you might get, after all its creative writing and not some less imaginative, over stressing, grey cell determining degree.
I guess i should start with my own creative writing summer program, well before the matter gets as bad as yours ;)

Rurality said...

My husband is back at college now too... if you've already got a degree you're worlds ahead of those, um, whippersnappers. Because you know how to study already. Hubby says all those young guys want to study with him now.

Pacian said...

There were plenty of nice non-young people when I went to uni. I wouldn't worry about it.

PS. I meme-tag you. Ignore as appropriate.

Bobby said...

I remember back when I was nineteen, twenty, twenty-one - and somebody would tell me their age: 30, 34, 37, 45 - and yeah - I'd observe and categorize: okay, this is what a 30-year-old is like, this is what a 34-year-old is like.

I remember this scene from a show called Northern Exposure - the show takes place in a kind of wilderness outpost town in Alaska. This character in the show, Holling, owns a bar - he's like in his 50's or 60's, and he dropped out of school in third grade or something. So he starts going back to school - to grade school - he's in there with all these little kids. In an assignment, each student in the class has to write a story. So all the little kids write their little kid stories, and then Holling's story is about this horrible knife fight he got in or something like that - this fight to the death he got in with some guy - and it's graphic and violent and crazylike some kind of Louis L'Amour story or something - he's reading his story in the class, and these kids are looking at him like, what the . . .

One thing I'm worried about or feel guilty about and this might sound dumb - but I almost feel like I would be spoiling their fun or messing up their youthful scene somehow - like if you have an older person in there forcing them to consider the oldster world view -

PoisOn CoAtEd ELiXir said...

An "up-setter of routine"?
Don't worry, everyone needs it every once in a while; both-you and them!