A Happy Accident

A decorated war veteran has the right to make a remark about people in the military. In his time, the only way to avoid Vietnam was to stay in school, be an outspoken homosexual or have some sort of physical malady. As a people, we need to keep in mind the experience of a person as they make their remarks.

There are kids in Iraq who are giving their lives to a war no one believes in. If we look at the statistics, most of these kids are from lower or middle class. Kerry’s remarks are not too far off the mark.

There is a choice a person makes when they are 18. I remember that choice. I chose to go to Junior College and work full time to support it. My dad told me my whole life that college was a waste of time and for some reason I didn’t listen. I knew I wanted a degree. For what purpose, I didn’t know.

I was a very uncomfortable teenager in high school. All around me kids were growing up, having sex, making very adult decisions. I, frankly, wanted to stay a child. I remember counting how much time I still had as a child- I did it almost every day, from the age of 12 on. I had so much freedom, my dad let me do whatever I wanted, that growing up seemed scary to me. I had nothing to rebel against.

Walking around the high school with out bells, I felt I did not fit in. I was fearful and reluctant. One little comment from a person would send me reeling and almost fleeing. I lived alone in an apartment – how different it may had been had I had the roommate situation.

One day, a beautiful young woman, who I had admired from afar, asked me why I wore black all the time. I hadn’t noticed that I did this and I went into this tailspin realizing I did not know fashion. Looking back, I realize I had no money and one pair of black shoes. I was just matching the shoes in a pathetic attempt to fit in.

I was so good at Chemistry. It was shocking how much I loved it and how easy it came to me. I quit going- not because of the material but because I didn’t feel I fit in to the class. I ‘ll take it next year. Each day I painfully pushed myself to get on those 3 buses to get to the campus.

I finally decided to quit. It was in the middle of an English class and a quiz. I did not know any of the answers to the questions on the test. Not one. My brain seized up. I felt stupid. So I quit. I walked home- it took 3 hours.

I felt really stupid. Like college was too much for me. Looking back I realize it was life, my dad being terminally ill and other crap that was causing all the fear. I got a part time job and a full time job and decided to just keep busy.

A year later I was in a car accident. 7 cars on the way to a party- my friends in a car in front of me – my friends in a car behind me. (none of them going to college) . It wasn’t a major accident- someone slammed on their breaks when they saw the party house and the rest of just bumped bumpers. We all had to get out and one of the people called the cops.

The cops arrived, one of the drivers was drunk. They made us all stand on the curb and wait as they sorted it all out. One of the drivers of another car was the beautiful young man. He darted over to me and said, “HEY, I know you. Where did you go?” I looked at him through my Cold Duck haze (Yes, I was drinking too) and couldn’t place him. He gushed, “You and I were in Chemistry class together. You were the only good looking chick in the whole class and I had my sites on you- where did you go?”

That has always stuck with me. That story. How close I was to acceptance. How different my life would have been had I gone to class one more day- maybe the day this boy would have talked to me. I told him so. I told him, likely cuz I was drunk, why I left. He laughed. Got my phone number. Never called.

I thought about going back to school then. Didn’t. It wasn’t until a later boyfriend asked me why I wasn’t in college. I was honest. I told him I felt dumb and not smart enough so I gave up. I will never forget what happened next.

I loved this guy and he really loved me. We were so cute together. We were always so nice to each other. He looked at me and said, “I do not think I can be in a relationship with someone who is afraid to try. With a quitter. You need to go back to school.”

And I did. I went and signed up that week. Got straight A’s. Worked both jobs and went to school. Started a company and went to school at night and got almost straight A’s.

I am just one car accident and one love relationship from not having a college education. How different my life would be. I may not have ended up in Iraq- though I do know I would not be sitting here on a plane heading to Orange County to teach a bunch of attorneys had I missed my opportunity.

Kerry- I know what you meant. Thank you for saying it. Maybe one kid in that audience made a decision to stay in school. Good for you.

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