Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Bob Dylan moment

Come gather 'round people, wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin', then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

I had my Bob Dylan/"The Times They Are A-Changin'" moment yesterday. And it was surprisingly bearable.

Yesterday, for the first time in the last 14 Augusts, the start of Central Michigan University's academic year held no significance for me (aside from the fact that it was the first one that held no significance for me, of course).

I moved to Mount Pleasant, Mich., in August 1996. I was a 17-year-old (almost 18-year-old) freshman on a full academic scholarship. I still remember more things about that day than I should: Being the first one to arrive in my room. Getting antsy about getting my parents out of there so I could have MY room (and then feeling a bit lonely when they did leave). Playing The Refreshments' "Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy" as soon as I was alone -- the first CD to be played on my stereo in my room. Smelling roofing tar nearly constantly for the first several weeks (and the smell still takes me back). Having a room phone number that spelled a farm animal's name and therefore getting plenty of prank calls, beginning five minutes into my residency. You get the idea. I remember it really, really well.

And something amazing happened in the years that followed: I became a part of a community that I didn't want to leave. While most of my fellow May 2000 CMU graduates went to lunch or dinner after graduation and then stopped by their apartments to retrieve the already-packed U-Haul and get the heck out of dodge, my family and I moved the last of my things into my own apartment across town, and I prepared to start graduate school in the fall.

In August 2000 and 2001, I was in graduate school and was serving as an instructor at CMU. In August 2002, I began working full time in the university's public relations and marketing office (where I'd also worked as a student) right around the start of the academic year (in fact, last Wednesday would have been my seven-year anniversary). In August 2005, I started my first academic year in a new role in the office, having become assistant director of media relations the month before, and each August after that brought the traditional flood of meetings, welcome-back preparations and an overall flurry of activity that occurs when your job largely involves working with faculty.

But this August was/is/has been different, as the elimination of my job earlier this spring has, in essence, made me "just another Mount Pleasant resident." And while it's pretty weird to not be in the start-of-the-academic-year mix after having it be a part of my life for nearly a decade and a half, I'm okay with it. I had no meetings or after-hours mixers to attend last week. I didn't leave my apartment on Thursday -- the always-crazy move-in day -- because I didn't have to (which was really, really nice; I'm not going to lie!). I could hear the sounds of the annual MAINstage concert Sunday night, but instead of thinking, "Yep, this means the madness begins tomorrow!," I relaxed on the couch and relished the thought of a Monday morning completely under my control.

I'm not upset or angry about the changing of the times, nor am I letting myself be stuck in the past that could so easily have consumed me. I feel as though I've accepted it all with a certain sense of grace and perspective. Jesus Jones captured that sentiment in a song that, coincidentally, mentions Mr. Dylan:

A woman on the radio talked about revolution
when it's already passed her by
Bob Dylan didnt have this to sing about
You know, it feels good to be alive

I was alive and I waited, waited; I was alive and I waited for this
Right here, right now
There is no other place I want to be

1 comment:

  1. Just wanted to tell you …WE are as proud of you now… as we were in the fall of 1996…you have taken the events of the past few month in stride! Always remember WE are here... should you need us…. That NEW door will open soon…and you will have a new fall adventure.