I found myself sitting at my table in the Campus Center, all over
again. My very first class as a journalism student wasn't until
11:00. I arrived at school two hours early. Anticipation,
anxiety, nerves, crawled up and down my legs, making me feel as
though I had restless leg syndrome. Danny's light snore echoed in
my memory, reminding me that he no longer had to ride the roller
coaster. I was alone. Or so I thought…
"May I?" I look up at Tara, whom I never once called
that entire summer.
"Yeah, of course."
"So, how was your summer?" She takes a seat.
"I'm sorry Tara."
"Whoa." I knew that she was upset. I had neglected my
best friend, once again. "I just asked a simple question. Why are
"Because I didn't call you once this entire summer."
She sits back.
"Gee, didn't notice. So, Matty, what's up with your
parents? Where's your mom's car? Is it in the shop?"
"It's a long story. See, my mom--"
"I don't think anybody keeps their mother fucking car
in the shop for two months straight." I was a piece of shit. "We
have two auto body shops in town and none of them have Anne's
fucking car. I'm not dumb. I've concluded that it finally
happened. So, when did it happen, huh? And how come I had to
conclude it myself?" I've never seen her this pissed off before.
"If it makes you feel any better, I haven't spoken to
my parents in two months."
"Oh yes Matty, a shit ton better. I don't get it.
It's like I've become the shoulder to lean on every time you and
the dumb ass have an argument. Am I even your best friend
anymore? Remember Hannah? Amber, and Shane? What about Kasey,
huh? Remember that oh so special night? I don't even know you
Just like the blink of an eye, what could very well
have been my ex-best friend, walked away. I was now entirely,
alone. I used to live for time spent alone. Now, who the hell was
I walk into a computer lab, immediately intimidated. Why the
intimidation? I want this. I need this.
I sat down between a slender guy, wearing Buddy Holly glasses and
a very serious guy, ready to be approached by knowledge. I'm sure
they already know that I am the fish out of this huge body of
water. Shit, am I fooling myself?
"Good Morning folks." Too late, the professor
approached. "Welcome to an introduction to the life of
Journalism" If I darted out now, I'd be the damned fool. This
professor would see me as the one who gave up too soon. "I am
professor Jensen or simply Stan." He has the same name as my
father. "Some of you are here just for an elective credit, and
then there are those whom are opening up your career paths."
That's me, I think. "Either or, just stick with it, please. If
not, then oh well, it's not my loss."
An Introduction to Journalism, an introduction to my
future, was a hike...literally. I listened, hard. By slightly
squinting my eyes, I tried to present myself in the same serious
manner as my neighbor. Words such as "field" and "career" were
thrown in my direction over and over again. Stan could see right
through me, he knew that this was my stepping stone. Everything
else that he said was murmured. I couldn't focus on the
miscellaneous. Is the miscellaneous just as important as the key
"Ok, enough with the rambled mumbo jumbo." My eyes
stretch open. "Let's get right into your first assignment."
Assignment, another key word. "Grammar, a human's best friend."
Yes, Grammar, who once stood next to Tara, had the possibility of
standing alone. "Using your sidekick, The Bedford Handbook
as your guide, read the sample article located in the cleverly
labeled file, Assignment 1, and proofread it. Proofreading, is
considered to be your sibling." Proofreading, the only sibling
I'll ever have. "Is the utmost important factor to writing. So,
I'll put your sibling skills to the test."
I felt like I was standing on top of Ryer's Hill,
overlooking Sandyville. Ryer's Hill is the only hill in town that
is neglected by a snow plow, during a snowstorm. Kids and
pre-teens sleigh ride down the hill, in hopes that a car will not
run them over once they've landed at the bottom of the hill at
the intersection of Ryer's Hill and Forester Avenue. The hill is
hard to climb, but withholds a thrilling sleigh ride.
"I have nothing else to say, really. The syllabus is
pretty much self-explanatory and I'm sure by now redundant. So
the remainder of the time can be spent on starting your
assignment. Some of you may even finish it before the class is
I turn myself around facing the computer. I double
click on a folder that was also cleverly labeled as,
"Assignments." The first assignment appeared before my very eyes.
"Kayaking in Katmai" My initial thoughts: "I've never
kayaked anywhere in my life" and "Where the hell is Katmai?'
"Interesting. Katmai is questionably the most wild
national park in this country. People never even heard of this
park before, solely because of the popularity of Yellowstone."
Yellowstone, now there is a park that I know of. Why couldn't we
proofread about Yellowstone and Olde Faithful? Wait, is Buddy
Holly talking to me? Sure he is. Go ahead Matty, make a new
"Honestly, I've never heard of Katmai before. Where
is it located?"
"What?" Guess I was wrong.
"Katmai. Where is it located?"
"Alaska. Can't you tell by the name?" No, I
couldn't...so much for making a new friend.
I direct my attention onto the article that stood
before me, composed of sentences that I had to scramble to make
"Focus Matty." I tell myself. "Fuck the know-it-all."
The first sentence, there were no errors. The second
sentence, there is a comma missing.
"There's no comma usage there. If you put a pause
there, the sentence will lack its importance and won't make much
Thank you Buddy Holly for exploiting that I cannot
I pull up to Danny's house-- yes I drove myself to
school in my own car-- to see Grandpa Salinski's Lincoln parked
behind Denise's mini van. This is the first time I smile all day.
I walk into the house, hoping to be greeted by Grandpa Salinki
first. Instead, I was greeted by Danny lounging on the couch,
with a Budweiser bottle in hand.
"Hey baby. How was it?" It was still quite odd to see
him so laid back and drinking a beer on a school night. But for
him, there was no such thing as a "school night." He could drink
all day and all night if he wanted to, and not have a worry in
the world. I wasn't use to his brand new schedule.
"Different. New…An eye opener." I scope around for
Denise. How she would just love to hear the tone in my voice.
"Where is everybody?"
"Dad and Grandpa are upstairs. Grandpa needed a
tutoring lesson on how to use the internet since him and my
Grandma just got the internet installed this morning. And mom is
downstairs doing the laundry. Was it bad?" I take a seat next to
him, grabbing the luke-warm beer bottle out of his hands, and
take a swig before I answer his question.
"Yes. Introduction to Journalism kicked my ass." I
sit back. "It seemed as though my fantasy, my dream, took its
reality and smacked me right across the face." I take another
swig. "I sit next to a know-it-all who just had to exploit my
unknowingness. I was defeated." I hand the beer back over to him.
"To start the day off, Tara made it very known how angry she is
at me for not even calling her once during the summer. It was
"Well, what about the other classes? How'd they go?"
"Oh, you mean Genetics?" As a steady finale to all
science courses, I signed up for what I was led to believe was
General Biology, where I would receive a review of my prior
biological knowledge. Apparently nobody informed my advisor
that Gen. Biology is actually Genetic Biology. "I'm doomed this
"Hi Matty Dear. How was your day?"
Great, just what I need, even more reality to smack
my already sore face.
"Hi Denise. Interesting?"
"I'll let you have Matty mom." Danny gets up from his
once comfortable position. "I'll go upstairs," No! "To see what
dad and Grandpa are up to." No!
"Come help me in the kitchen Matty."
I get up, mentally chasing after Danny, pulling and
tugging on to his tee shirt, begging him to take me with him.
But, I ended up in the kitchen, in a normal state.
"So, tell me, how interesting was it?" I open the
cabinet where the dinner plates are located. I allow the aroma of
lemon chicken breast, asparagus, and Uncle Ben's Wild Rice enter
my nose and down into my impatient stomach.
"It was awkward not having Danny there." I start
setting the kitchen table. "That'll take some getting use to. My
"Introduction to Journalism?" I place the plate down,
wanting to slam it, breaking the floral printed plated into
"Yeah, right. It was…well, it was--"
"Mm, smells delicious Denise." Footsteps could only
mean, "Thanks again for inviting me." Grandpa Salinski. "Matty,
How are you?"
"Great. And you?"
"Well, boys just sit down while Matty and I set the
table. She was just explaining her first day as a Journalism
student. Continue Matty."
"Say, Matty, sorry to interrupt." Interruption? This
is not an interruption. This is a perfect save. I swear, it's
like Grandpa Salinski could read my mind, not my facial
reactions. "But I've been meaning to ask you this. You have said
to me before that one of your grandfathers was in World War II.
He was over in the Philippines?"
"Both of my grandfathers were in the war. It was my
mom's fathers who was stationed in the Philippines."
"That's right. So was I. What was your grandfather's
"Hmm. Doesn't ring a bell." I take a seat, across
from Grandpa Salinski. "An Irish name. I can tell you're Irish."
"Really?" Denise places the chicken in the middle of
the table. "See, to me, she looks Italian, through and through.
Look at her gorgeous curly hair." Danny glances over at me
"Curly hair is not just an Italian gene. My first
girlfriend, Carla, had bright auburn hair that cascaded down to
the middle of her back, with curls as luscious as Matty's. Carla
was 100 percent Irish."
"But, it's her deep brown eyes. I think her rich
brown hair and her rich brown eyes are what make her look like an
"Look at her porcelain skin. A light complexion such
as Matty's is a distinctive Irish trait." Denise nods at Grandpa
Some how a simple question about my Grandfather
turned into a mini debate over which ethnicity that makes up
Matty Bianco, is more visibly evident.
The conversation converted and carried on over to the
living room, where Mr. Salinski and Danny were passed out from an
overly stuffed stomach and an overly buzzed head. Denise was in
her lair, cleaning up the remainders of the dinner mess.
"It's a shame that your grandparents aren't alive to
tell you about your heritage. Do your parents story tell at all?"
Not even when I was a child, to help me to fall asleep.
"No. Not at all. Unfortunately, I am really clueless
when it comes to my family history. I really enjoy your stories
though. Although he doesn't need it, but I always remind Danny
just how lucky he is...just incase he might show the potential of
forgetting." I stare over at the father son duo, napping, with
both of their heads tilted to the side and both of their lips
"Listen, Matty, the beginning of any change is hard.
Hell, even butt-kicking. Just keep at it, as hard as it can be or
will be on you. Don't ever let anybody change your mind, ok?" I
look into his glossy brown eyes. All of the Salinski men have the
same laughing eyes. "Trust me," He whispers, "I know how Denise
I had a dream that night, one of those symbolic, yet
obscure dreams. I walk into Stan Jenson's classroom, but the
computer lab was completely empty. I look up at the clock to see
that I was on time. I take my seat, where Tara pops out of now
where, taking over Buddy Holly's place. I was excited to see her
"Tara, thank God. Help me, please. This class is
"I can't help you. You're never there for me, so why
should I help you?" Her smile remains, never once leaving my
"But…I will be. I am your best friend."
"She's no good for you Matty Dear." Denise's voice
travels from where my serious neighbor should reside. I turn to
see her vivid face. "You need more stable friends." She was
wearing an apron that was an identical match to the baby blue rug
in Danny's bedroom. "Does Tara really even know you anymore?
Plus, Danny is all you need."
I scream out, like a damsel in distress in a horror
film. I turn myself completely around, to see my parents standing
before me, holding hands.
"Now that you're gone Matty, we can finally be a real
couple again." My mom takes a sip from a wine glass which was
almost filled to the brim.
"Please, sweetheart, never come back home or ever
call us again. We're finally happy again, without out you in our
lives." My dad's glare was fierce and harmful. I could literally
feel their happiness within me. It was sharp and stomach
"Matty?" I look up, still blindsided by my father's
glare. "How's it going? Did you have a good summer?" I shake my
head to match the voice with Patricia Ackerman's face. Her violet
shirt now became my view.
"Hi. Yes. Yes, I did. My summer was relaxing."
"Sorry, I didn't mean to disturb you. You are alone,
so I thought I would say hello."
"It's ok. I don't mind being alone. Actually, I love
"Well, ok then. It was nice to see you again." She
began to walk away, probably feeling uncomfortable.
"Mrs. Ackerman, wait." I stand up. "I didn't mean
to--I didn't want to…I'm sorry." She walks back over to the
"Are you ok?"
"Yeah. I think." I sit back down.
"What's wrong?" She takes a seat.
"No." It figures. "But what woman isn't confused
about something or another? Does it involve a guy?"
"No, for once it doesn't. Actually, I'm the
problem. It's self-inflicted I'm sure, but I just--I shouldn't
use you as my temporary therapist."
"I was 20 and confused once too. Talking is the best
anecdote, trust me. Blab, gab, bore me; it'll help."
Patricia Ackerman allowed me to vent until the words
became tiring. She looked directly into my confusion, giving me
the chance to freely admit my doubts and lack of esteem. Never
once did she condescend. She allowed me to own my words with
"Honestly Matty, my twenties were a lot different for
me, but there is one thing every 20 year-old has in common and
that's confusion. The best thing my shrink did for me was
allowing me to talk without any interruptions. How dare somebody
else try to take over your emotions? Own them and make a
hierarchy of them, no matter the situation. Once you have
acknowledged them, then it's time to take them into action one by
And that's exactly what I did, I created a mental
list of everything I needed to patch up and take care of.