For the past few years, it’s been a joke among my family and close friends that I may very well be in college forever. I’m not one of those students who continually switch majors, nor am I a Ph.D. candidate (not yet, anyway).
I’m simply the student who has opted to travel the back roads instead of the freeway.
A couple years ago I decided that I wasn’t in a hurry, for anything. Forever looked like more than enough time and the scenery was better at 35 mph.
Turns out, a lot of stuff is better at this pace: the scenery, my traveling companions, but most of all, the memories.
I’ve had ample time on these winding roads to think about where I’ve been and where I’m heading. I’ve listened to a lot of Cat Stevens. I’ve read a lot of poetry. I’ve shared a lot of laughs and shed a lot of tears. I’ve tried to abandon regret.
This last one hasn’t been easy. For every thing I’ve done there is inevitably something I haven’t done. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton was a smart man, but he didn’t account for everything: like newspapers. And second chances. Thirty-five mph. Thanks to these, I have one less regret.
To my kindergarten teacher, Richard Moody, thank you for teaching me respect. Ever since my first day of school, when I got in trouble for talking with Michelle Hovies during story-time, I’ve thought twice about speaking out of turn. It usually doesn’t stop me, but at least I’m trying. I’m also still working on listening.
To Ben Needham, my third-grade teacher and first teacher crush, thank you for sharing with me the poetry of Shel Silverstein. To this day, I think of “Bandaids” whenever I am hurt. I have found other poets to soothe my wounds, but few make me laugh the way he did, and the way you did.
To my sixth-grade teachers, Frank Francis and Pam Rossio, thank you for encouraging me to write and teaching me to laugh at myself. And Mr. Francis, thank you for sharing your recipe for chocolate Coke. I still get cravings.
To my junior high drama teacher, Linda Talluto, thank you for New York City. If I ever make it big, you’re welcome to visit me. By the way you were right, real men do play soccer.
To Don Tunnell, my eighth- and ninth-grade English teacher, thank you for not tolerating my bullshit. You were the first, but certainly not the last.
To Craig Hastin, head football coach at Tualatin High School, thank you for teaching me to compete with The Boys. I can still bench 100 pounds, only now I can do it in stilettos.
To Cheryl Priest, my high school cheerleading coach and surrogate mother, one paragraph isn’t enough. Thank you for believing in me, fighting for me and loving me. I’ll always do the same for you.
To Michael Benware, my junior English teacher, and Gail Fleenor, my high school art teacher, thank you for challenging the norm and challenging me. You’re still two of the coolest people I know.
To Paul Hogan, my senior English teacher, and Rob Barteletti, my senior religion teacher, thank you for your continued interest and support. You are faith.
To my former co-workers at the Oregon State University Daily Barometer, you know who you are. You amaze me.
To my academic advisor, life coach and some-time therapist, Peter Carafiol, thank you for reminding me of how life changing a teacher can be. You’ve taught me more than I thought possible. I am forever grateful.
And finally to my family, Joan, Len, Carol and Ryan, and friends, thank you for everything. Now the joke’s over. I win.