I must admit that my first semester as a college student was rather overwhelming and startling. During high school I had always been the type of person who conformed strictly to the "rules". No smoking. No drinking. No drugs. No sex. Needless to say it was, primarily, an uneventful time in my life. So imagine my first few weeks of the college experience. More parties, alcohol, and girls than you could shake a stick at.
As a result I found myself drifting into the classic college first semester. By midterm I was in serious danger of sustaining a seriously sub-standard GPA.
I think my parents had realized what was going on. Over the next few weeks I received an endless barrage of comforting and supporting phone calls from my mother. Assuring me that they loved me no matter what.
Then my father called. He assured me that no matter what, if I didn't at least have an "average" GPA, that I would be spending the following year perfecting my recitation of "Would you like fries with that?"
Locked in a daze, I let my parents' words drift in one ear and out the other. I was having far too much fun to care.
In fact, the true weight of my situation didn't hit home until a few weeks later. I found myself sitting in my apartment, alone, trying to figure out some method to my madness. I couldn't believe how far I had drifted from the real me.
That weekend, I spent a lot of time on personal reflection and re-evaluating my behavior. For the first time since high school, I actually opened a book and worked on homework. I was drastically behind in my subjects and I was going to need a miracle to come out on top. But I had a new direction, and I was determined.
My first order of business was to speak to all of my instructors and to set up personal appointments to explain my situation and my intent. I wasn't sure if it would make that much difference, but in the very least, it would make me feel better. And at this point, that was the most important thing to me.
By the end of the following week I had successfully met with all but one of my professors. I had saved her for last, because she would be the most difficult to speak with.
Dr. Ellis was extremely strict with her grading criteria, and from my observations, she was a real bitch. Most of my classmates speculated that she had been criticized during her own college days, when it was less accepted for women to obtain degrees, and that she took that out on her students. Missing most of her lectures, I hadn't realized how interesting they could be. Her presentation of tendencies of the mind and psychological behavior were intriguing, if not alluring.
Slowly I walked up to her after class; waiting for the teacher's pets to finish lavishing her with praises, before I introduced myself.
"Ah, yes. It is so nice that you finally decided to join the rest of us on these fine autumn mornings." The criticism in her voice sent chills up my spine. I bit my tongue back and drudged on with my explanations.
"So, you have been wasting away your semester... your parents' hard earned money, partying all night long, and now you wish for me to make it all better? Is that correct?" Again I resisted the urge to jump to my own defense. At this point, I didn't want to piss off the only person who could possibly help me learn what I had missed.
"Dr. Ellis," I started again. "I don't think you understand. I don't want any handouts. I don't want any special favors. I've realized that I screwed up... badly. I just want a chance to gain something back from that mistake."
I stood there, in front of her cynical gaze, for what seemed like hours, until she finally sighed heavily.
"Fine. I have to come in and work on some of my research this weekend anyway." Reaching into her purse she pulled out a small slip of paper and a pen. "Here's the address for my office. I haven't yet received one of the "new" offices, so it might take you a few minutes to locate it. It's slightly sheltered from the rest of the university."
Having said that she loaded up her lecture materials and headed for the door. Stopping halfway, she turned slowly in my direction. "I hope you're truly serious about your intentions. Because if you're not, I guarantee that there will be a world of suffering in your future from me."
Shocked by her threat, I stood there, stunned, as she walked away. I wasn't quite sure of the implications of her threat. All I knew of were the sincerity of my own intentions.
I spent the first few hours of the following morning attempting to locate the building that her office was in. I spent another 30 minutes locating the actual office itself. Needless to say, the "older" building had been "updated" multiple times over the years, causing a labyrinth-like distribution of room numbers and hallways. I would have asked anyone there for directions; however, it appeared that nobody else was in the building.
Finally by chance I happened to overhear Dr. Ellis on the phone and followed the sound of her voice to a tucked-away corner of the building. Glancing in my direction as I stood in her doorway, she motioned for me to enter as she proceeded with a heated discussion with her phone.
I sat down across from her desk and she handed me a small stack of papers, stapled neatly together at the corner. "Read this" she silently mouthed to me before returning to her phone. I grinned slightly at the sight of the woman. She never relaxed. Here she was, spending a weekend doing research in her office, and she was dressed in a business skirt and jacket. The temperature outside, alone, was enough to force me into shorts and a tee. Her hair was held up tightly against her head, and a few random strands had slipped free, falling to her cheek-line. A light trickle of sweat had formed on her forehead and had started running down the side of her cheek.
Obviously she'd been on the phone for quite some time, and hadn't cared enough about her appearance to fix it. It was slightly comforting to realize that she wasn't perfect. And that she was willing to show it.
Returning my attention to the reason I was there, I absorbed myself in the psychology report she had handed me. The report, again, was a very interesting subject. It talked about the behavior of overly dependent people. Their need for support and nourishing commitment from someone they could trust. Then the report went on to detail those on the opposite side of the spectrum. Those who sought to dominate.
When I had finished the rather extensive report, I looked up and Dr. Ellis awaiting my attention. "So, what do you think?"
Nervously I gave my opinion of the essay and its findings. Silently, she listened to my words, gnawing on the earpiece of her thin-rimmed glasses. It was amazing how differently she looked without glasses. It was as if I was looking at a completely different person.
When I had finished my explanation, she responded, "Well, those are some interesting insights..."
"Please, call me James."
"... James. Some very interesting insights." Slowly she spun her chair around as she contemplated my thoughts. As her mind toiled, she reached up and unclasped her hair, letting it fall down to her shoulders. Gently she brushed her hair through it and shook her head slightly. Then she proceeded to strip away her suit jacket, fanning her face with the palm of her hand.
"You know, one of these days they're going to respect me enough to give me some air conditioning." She laughed. "Now, about your insights..."