It started early last week. The traffic started getting thicker and the volume levels started increasing as the students began trickling back into Bowling Green. It reached a peak on Thursday and Friday, the prime move-in days for the on-campus students, and continued through the weekend as the stragglers made their way into town. This morning, as I drove to work, the students were pouring down the street in droves, on their way to tackle their first day of classes.
It's the beginning of a new school year, and this year, for the first time in six years, it hits close to home. Brandi is one of the students returning to the campus scene, as she begins the quest for her Master's degree. She spent last evening getting her supplies together, making sure everything was in order for today. I sat on the couch, watching her, wishing I was doing the same thing.
It's funny, when you stop to think about it. Years ago, through elementary and junior high school, this time of the year always came around far too quickly, bringing with it a certain amount of dread and anxiety. As I went through high school and especially after I started college, I began looking forward to the beginning of a new year, the rediscovery of late summer/early fall traditions, the re-establishment of familiar routines, and the reunion with friends. Besides that, I grew to like school. Not the drudgery of homework and tests, of course, but the actual learning process, the new challenges, the creativity it awakened in me. I finished my undergraduate degree in the spring of 2000, and now, after six consecutive school years have started without my participation, this day brings with it a yearning to return to the world of academics, a yearning that is so strong that it is accompanied by a physical sensation, almost an ache.
I think a great deal about going to graduate school and pursuing a Master's degree. I do it mostly due to the love of learning I have developed over the years, but I'm also pushed in that direction by the inadequate compensation I receive from my place of employment. Pursuing a higher degree would make me happy; receiving a higher degree would potentially open doors to better jobs and better pay. However, it's a bad idea to go into graduate coursework with an "undecided" major, and that's exactly what I am at this point. I haven't yet decided what I'd like to pursue in my next foray into higher education. My first inclination is English, the subject in which I received my Bachelor's degree. However, that degree hasn't proven itself to be particularly useful thus far, and despite my usual disdain for practicality, I think it would be a good idea to land a degree which would lend itself more directly to a relatively well paying career I would better enjoy than my current situation. Of course, I could pursue English education, but I'm still hesitant to commit to that given my aversion to dealing with people. Some type of graphic design is a possibility. Beyond that, I just don't know.
All that aside, this year I've decided not to be deterred in my desire to go back to school myself, after a fashion. Brandi's class schedule for this semester dictates that she will be away from the apartment until late in the evening a couple of times per week. On those evenings, I've resolved to spend some time on campus myself, away from the distractions of home, dedicated to the craft of writing. This can and will take any form--blogging, journal writing, e-mail, fiction, or even reading--as long as I'm focused. When I'm at home, my desire to write is often matched by my desire to do other things, things that generally aren't creative or even particularly thought-intensive. Those things have their place, of course, but I think it's an outstanding idea for me to get away a couple of times per week and make sure those things can't distract me from this. Writing is something I want, love, and need to do, but as it requires effort where most of those other things don't, it's often a struggle to get myself to do it.
BGSU's campus, from the moment I first settled upon it and called it home, has been sort of a creative nexus for me, the place where it seems as though my mind works best. The idea of placing myself there appealed to me from the moment I first thought of it. I'm at the BGSU Student Union right now, in fact, in a great location. I'm on the second floor, in a little niche in the clock tower, overlooking one of the main intersections for the university's pedestrian traffic. The Union and the Jerome Library are both set up with wireless access throughout, and over the course of the next sixteen weeks, I'm sure I'll use both of them. Today, though, for the first day of classes, I knew I wanted to come to the Union. It's full of comings and goings, and I'm in a great place to people-watch, soak up the atmosphere, and let my mind adjust to being immersed in the vibe.
I thought I might feel out of place here: after all, this Union was just built a couple of years ago and was never my Union, and the incoming freshman class is a full ten years younger than I am. Being here feels natural, though; it feels like home. It's hard to imagine how a certain place, a certain collection of buildings on a certain stretch of land, can take such a hold on a person, to the point where that person not only loves said place but, when there, feels like more than what he normally is. I'm not questioning it, though; I'm just soaking it up and hoping to roll with it.