I had quit my job back in that valley city, in order to be with my girlfriend during the summer, before we both set off to University down at the coast at the beginning of September. However, when I arrived the welcome was not as warm as I had thought it might be. Her family was set against me being there and having any sort of interaction with her. Consequently, with just under two months to go before we left for the coast, and two courses to finish in order to gain entry into this University, with no job, and no prospects, I had run out of options.
So, my girlfriend and I worked out a way to make this work. I would arrive at her home each morning after everyone else left for the day. I would shower and get something to eat. We would spend some time together and then I would take off, long before anyone showed up and became the wiser. I would spend my days sitting in the parks working on my course. In the evenings I would drive to a deserted beach and park to go to sleep. This strategy worked for the most part, although the authorities kept catching up to me and moving me along, not wanting me to sleep in my van on the various beaches that lined the shores of these beautiful lakes in the area.
Consequently, I spent a lot of time and money on gas, driving around looking for more and more isolated spots in which to sleep, lucking out for a couple days before someone would catch me and I would have to move along. My days were monotonous, spending long hours trying to finish the one course. I quickly knew that I would not be able to finish both courses so my girlfriend began to work on my second course – an English course.
With time ticking, it came right down to the wire with me handing in the last assignments from both courses and then immediately writing both exams for the two courses. To do that I had to travel back to the valley city. The first exam I wrote quite easily, since it was for the course I had just finished – yesterday. But then the proctor brought me the second exam – the English exam. I remember sitting there and opening up the exam to its various sections – poetry, short stories, and the such. I palm smacked myself. The exam was referencing poems covered in the course and stories covered in the course. I read none of them. I didn’t even read my girlfriend’s submissions, desperate I was just to finish. Consequently, I ended up leaving most of that exam empty, guessing on some work, and hoping for the best.
It would be about a week after I was already at University that the grades came back. I passed the course I took with high marks and I barely passed the English course – but I passed!
Soon after taking the exams I arrived at my girlfriend’s house and packed up her belongings in my van, setting our sites on the coast. It really felt like we were both entering adulthood as a couple – that what we were doing was the beginning of our life together, forever. We arrived at the University, she going to the women’s side of things to get settled into her new dorm and new chapter of her life and I doing the same on the men’s side. In her case, her parents had made sure she had everything in place and so her only worry was to unpack and make friends with her roommates. In my case, I was still waiting both on acceptance into the University and for my funding to come through.
Within a day or so of arriving on campus I received word that I was officially in – I had been accepted to University. They had just received the final marks from my exams and now the only thing that I was waiting on was my funding. I received word on that within a couple more days – I had been turned down. Back in the day there was a requirement that students under a certain age received a certain level of financial help from their parents if they made a certain income. Certainly that was the case for me but most certainly was I not going to receive that level of financial help. Most certainly not.
I was now faced with a huge dilemma. I was living on campus at the University that on one hand I was allowed to be at and could attend classes, but had no money in which to do so. So, while my roommate went to his first class, I hoped in my van and skipped out, driving into the local city to seek out employment. Employment ended up coming quite quickly, which I was thankful for. I had entered a local restaurant, belonging to the same chain I had worked for back home. As I spoke with the general manager he informed me that they had been waiting for me to arrive as the owner of the restaurant back home had called ahead providing me with an amazing reference. I accepted the job and began working immediately.
My first check was a couple weeks away and I was almost out of gas so I sold the last possession I had – my microwave – for fifty dollars – a tank of gas for my van. Now, all I needed to do was to figure out a place to live. In the meantime I continued to live on campus illegally, hoping that the bureaucracy that ran the place would take a while to catch up to me. All the while I remained an nonpaying customer, sleeping in their rooms and eating their food.
By happenstance, the following week at work one evening, a family had come in for dinner, whom I recognized from back home. We struck up a conversation and when I had shared an update on what was happening in my life, they gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse. They invited me to live with them, free room and board. I was ecstatic. I now had a full-time job and a free place to stay. Although I couldn’t continue at the University with my girlfriend, it was as if I had gone ahead to secure a financial future for the both of us. I was laying a foundation for us while she was gaining some schooling like she had desired. Best of all, I was only minutes down the road from the University and could come visit her all the time.
What could go wrong?