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Chapter 1 – A Dream Deferred

He could remember it like it was yesterday. In fact, it was about eight months ago. He didn’t sleep well the night before. The following day was spent preparing for departure. He had hurriedly packed his clothes, a few pairs of Adidas, HDTV, Xbox 360, and sound system in anticipation for move-in day.

He was so excited that moving in was all he could think about. He had devised a plan to both skip the insanity of hundreds of cars, thousands of boxes, and tens of thousands of students and move in during the middle of the night seeing as his roommate had already moved in. His parents didn’t like his idea, they probably saw it as their son overly eager to leave the nest. He moved anyway.

He could remember it like it was yesterday. In fact, it was about seven months ago. The first few days of classes were taken very seriously. He would do his daily French homework, his nightly Plan II World Literature reading, and read his Philosophy textbook. He kept a planner with due dates and such in an attempt to be more organized, more focused, a better student. His roommates were excited to dig in as well. Two of the three went to the same high school as him. Labeled economically disadvantaged and full of underprivileged students, he and his roommates had already exceeded expectations. Whether they would beat the odds and stay was, and still is, another story. The 14th floor was special. He met all sorts of people, from all sorts of places. They, too, were excited and ready for the challenge. They, like him, were so eager to overachieve, well to achieve at all. Oh, how quickly that feeling disappeared like so many liquids poured into so many cups and became more of a struggle to stand on their own two feet.

He could remember it like it was yesterday. In fact, it was six months ago. He sat and talked with a good friend of a good friend in a good restaurant with good food that he would come to frequent often. She gave him an orange folder with a few organizations to get involved with and a couple of scholarships to apply for. He was excited to dig in to the UT political scene for many different but equal reasons.

He could remember it like it was yesterday. In fact, it was roughly five months ago. Knee deep in the semester he was in over his head, only problem is he didn’t know it yet. He had become lazy, and too caught up in things that didn’t really matter. He had met many girls, some of which he found very attractive, and even fewer of which he found potential in; or at least he thought he found potential in them. He would soon find out that potential was a two-way street, both in terms of school and girls. It doesn’t matter how hard opportunity knocks if there’s no one there to answer. As the end of his first semester narrowed a lot had changed. He had met hundreds of people, and joined a few organizations. He had went back to the bottom, a place he hadn’t been in since kindergarten, but the future had much promise. So he was told. As the end of his first semester narrowed he figured he would just skate through to the break with decently decent grades in his classes. He could remember it like it was yesterday, reading the grade report and immediately thinking he could tell no one. Not the members of the organization who thought he was cool, nor his peers who pegged him as smart, and especially not his parents who expected the best of him. He told no one.  He thought to himself that he could make it up. He vowed that the second semester would be different. He wasn’t used to this position. He wondered what was happening to his dream. He wondered if it was even his dream still. Or was it just the dream of so many others and he was just in it? He wondered if it had shriveled up and ran somewhere far, far away from him.

He could remember it like it was yesterday. In fact, it was roughly four months ago. Although he was from Austin, being with his family for a month helped him forget a lot. Over the break he was reminded that he had many people who loved him, and wouldn’t think differently of him regardless of what happened. At least that’s what he hoped. With the end of the break, however, came reality in the form of mail. Usually things sent in the mail are really good or really bad. In this case he passed it off as neither. He got a job, too, one of the highlights of his second semester.

He could remember it like it was yesterday. In fact, it all happened two to three months ago. He came back determined, with a new lease on school. After being shipped off to war once, he didn’t mind going back for a second time. He remembered how fun his first tour was and thought that he probably shouldn’t have that much fun the second time around. He took things slower. He was either turned away or resolved to stay away from things that weren’t absolutely necessary. He missed a lot of things from his first tour and a lot was different the second time around. He felt it was for the better. Unfortunately it really wasn’t. Despite his attempts to focus, he saw little results. On the bright side, he got to know a girl who made an effort to get to know him. He wasn’t used to this position either, however that seemed to be a growing trend.

He could remember it like it was yesterday. In fact, it was earlier this month. Things were winding down again, and again there was little he could do about them. He talked to whoever he could talk to and tried to finish strong. The rest was out of his hands.

He could remember it like it was yesterday. In fact, it was last week. He took his finals. He studied harder than he’d ever studied in his life. One night while sitting in Starbucks, re-writing a paper that wouldn’t change his grade, he realized something. He thought back on the year. He thought of the people he made friends with. Those that cried in the hallway, those that yelled through their doors, those that stayed up all night studying, those that stayed up all night doing nothing, those that he would see next year, those that would be back next year and he would probably never see again, and those that wouldn’t be back next year and he would miss dearly. He thought about the classes he did well in, and the classes he didn’t do well in. But above all, he thought about himself, and wondered where he would go from here. He thought about the terrible, as well as the great times of the past year. He thought about his dream that at the time smelled like rotten meat and was a heavy, heavy load.

He could remember it like it was yesterday. In fact, it was yesterday. He moved out. It was over. He had become another memory in the hallways of 14. He had walked from dirt roads and is now facing grass, albeit not so green. The weight on his shoulder heavier than ever, proving still to be a tumultuous load. As he looks to summer school, he wonders, will it explode? Regardless, he loved every minute of it. And would do it again in a heartbeat.

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May 26, 2009 | | Comments are closed for this post

2 Comments to Chapter 1 – A Dream Deferred

Wow Van I want you to know that this was amazingly written. It captured my attention from the beginning and if it was a book I would call it a page turner. It was very real and heartfelt (not to say that you are not normally). I think that you are a great guy and I hope that you have a wonderful year next year and I hope to see you around.

May 28, 2009
— Hannah Rose Bainter

wow, this is so detailed. very nice :)

July 2, 2009
— sandy
photo of Van