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 you sorry?”
“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 anymore.”
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?
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 words?
“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 over.”
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 friend.
“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 sense.
“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 sense.”
Thank you Buddy Holly for exploiting that I cannot proofread.
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 bad.”
“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
“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 name?”
“Hmm. Doesn’t ring a bell.” I take a seat, across from Grandpa Salinski. “An Irish name. I can tell you’re
“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 smirking.
“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 Italian
“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
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 slightly parted
“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 can be.”
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 fucking awful.”
“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 churning.
“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 it.”
“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 pride.
“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 one.”
And that’s exactly what I did, I created a mental list of everything I needed to patch up and take care of.
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