Me and college collided one day. I had arrived. I opened the door of the truck where my father had packed everything I would ever come to own. It was sunny and hot. We pieced the loft he had built me with a drill, toting the waterbed bags up the ladder and dropping them in, side by side. My little nephew set up my computer for me. He was pale from spending the summer indoors, away from natural light. And then they all left me and I was afraid. I didn’t know anyone. College then began hitting me, and we duked it out for the set number of years.

I hit college every time I say the word loan, every time I see that tattered diploma, which has yet to find itself in a frame, taped up on one wall of whatever room you walk into first when you enter any apartment I’ve lived in. Every time I feel that much older, with that time further away from me.

I hit college when I see kids now, in it, trudging along with that pride that must be universal. I hit it every fall in the stores when I see Back To School all over the place. I hit college like some people hit the death of a loved one, or when they remember the way they once were, before that person died. I hit college in the summers, when it is so easy to forget that once continuous bracket of time, between semesters, terms, and breaks.

I hit college hardest the summer after we all graduated, when we lingered in town waiting for some yet unknown fate to blow us across the East Coast. There was that silence between mouthfuls and evenings spent in wonder that was understood; it meant we really didn’t know, and now it was scary, because we were supposed to know. The world was looking at us to act.

College is like any other institution you enter, whether willingly or not. Hospital, mental wards, prison, summer camp. It leaves this residue in you that releases some somber reminiscence throughout the course of the rest of your life. When I hit college, I was waiting to be re-invented. When college hit me, I fell over and hit the road and wandered many years. To some, college meant a lot less. They can put it behind them, like an operation or a phase of life that is now over, and sometimes I can do that too.

College hits me all the time, and I am battered at times with its scars. I go hungry. I’m not doing shit with this major of mine. People look at me funny when they find out, for I am not in a college town unless one is currently enrolled, and then you’re a sub-resident, a transplant, an outsider.

I hit college, and even now, I think I’m pretty much the same, only harder.

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