And so, by a very narrow margin, against all odds, I graduated.
It didn’t look like I would! My GPA was abysmal and my grades just didn’t look like I had any chances of graduating.
I was never good in school. Not that I a stupid or an idiot, I was more of the creative type. I would find creative use of my time instead of listening the teachers go on and on about the American Revolution or the logarithmic function, whatever that was.
I even had to redo my 8th grade because my grades were just too horrible! My friend Melody did the same and well, that’s how we became friends actually.
The difference, is that after being held back a year, she blossomed in every way: her grades rose drastically year after year, her popularity rose and her self-esteem sky rocketed.
Me, I just got worse. Every year, there was more notions built on top of notions I hadn’t mastered that I had no hope of catching up on, plus new notions built on top of those I did master the previous year which simply eluded me.
If I paid more attention in class, perhaps I might have succeeded but I often felt like I was in a Charlie Brown cartoon, only I didn’t understand the adults either.
Melody tried to help me, but once she discovered boys, I was pretty much left alone. We still talked, but instead of hanging out after school for her to help me study, she’d do one or more guys from the football team.
She was a slut! And I am not judging her… not at all! She is the one who was pretty much spreading the rumor. Not that is was false.
At any party, she’d be the first drunk and naked in the pool, or drunk and naked on the coach. Or just naked at the table after losing a strip poker game in record time.
Guys loved her! She was easy, had a ton of fun, and didn’t cause drama.
Girls hated her, for pretty much the same reason but it didn’t seem like she cared. She kept saying she was already accepted at her dream University (some small private place no one knew from Florida) and had gotten almost a full scholarship.
I didn’t have any trouble accepting that: her grade as a senior were among the top 5 of the school which really, really didn’t help her with her popularity with the other girls.
Meanwhile, I was a wallflower. I was failing in almost every subject and all of the Universities I applied to rejected me, even a few community colleges who were suppose to accept pretty much everyone.
“We feel like you have an insurmountably grade deficit which will prevent your graduation. Should you wish to redo your senior year and successfully pass it, we encourage you to apply again with the same essay, as we were moved by it”
Ok, that was one of them. The rest were less positive.
I was stuck in rural Oklahoma and wouldn’t have a future. I was resigned to it.
But then, something happened. I don’t know what, but my grades improved, and by a lot.
For a reason I just couldn’t understand, I could concentrate in class and actually understand the teachers.
Melody told me it was because the stress level in class was low: students were already accepted in their programs and had almost enough points to graduate, so perhaps, just perhaps, my empathy was no longer going haywire with the stress of my fellow students.
Teachers noticed: they began tutoring me again instead of writing me off, and some even gave me extra credits for my efforts, just enough to possibly graduate.
Melody left for Florida a week before the end of the class: she had a summer job near her college and had taken arrangements for her last exams.
She left without even leaving a phone number to anyone!
But I soldiered one and passed my senior year by the seat of the pants! I still was in serious trouble: most of the colleges were full or didn’t think my grades were good enough, but I still called every admission office I could find!
Eventually, I just called Melody’s college, St-David, and they told me they still had a few spots available.
I submitted an express late registration. They wanted my record, an essay (of course), but the oddest was that that wanted both a head shot and a full body picture. Any recent picture with form fitting clothes would do.
They also included a series of positions one could take to reduce tuition and I was immediately attracted by the position of swimming lesson coach: I had been taken swimming lessons for year have been a lifeguard for 2 years.
I submitted a letter of referral from my boss and for the full body shot decided to use a picture of me in my lifeguard bathing suit, by the pool.
This was my last shot at college and getting out of this dump!
The college was in the middle of nowhere, so every student was required to live on campus in their residence and the cost was included in the tuition. It was still too much for what my parents and I saved up, but perhaps with student loans?
Melodie sent me in the mean time a postcard and invited me to write back to her, without leaving a phone number.
I wrote her that I was one last college I was applying to, but that I didn’t have much hopes. I didn’t tell her which, so I wouldn’t get her hopes up.
She wrote back that she was excited for me, but that she was also very busy with her summer job and preparing for college.
Meanwhile, I was a lifeguard and I took extra duties as a swimming lesson coach in case I go the gig.
Three weeks later, my boss, all excited, came to see me: the college had called to confirm his letter of referral and he told them I was taking extra swimming lessons to get ready if they wanted me. They asked a ton of questions about me, about my personality, about my interactions with others. A few were odd, but he couldn’t quite remember the whole conversation: it lasted over an hour!
Two weeks later, I received a letter telling me I was on he short list for their humanities program: it’s a 2 year program which can help you restore your grades so you can apply to a major or other to get a full bachelor degree. If I did well in my 2 years, I could be a psych major 2 years later, or a sociology teacher or perhaps a sexologist. They had a few programs of interest and even if they weren’t in my typical interests, they would offer me a good career.
I got a response 3 weeks before their start of class: I was accepted provided I accepted to be in the Clairevue residence and teach swimming lessons twice per week. In exchange for accepting the Clairevue terms and rules, I would get a full tuition scholarship for my first year of schooling, and partial scholarship on room and board.
After talking with my parents, I accepted and we decided I could take a bus since airfare was too expensive.
I packed all of my things and with a lot of hope, I left my hometown for sunny Florida!