Looking back on that final year in my teens, I see one area I wish I had taken more seriously, Guys. There were just too many things happening for me to sort through some rather basic essentials, as it turned out. From the senior citizen vantage point, I can say that carrying a full load of academic credits, and sometimes even a bit more, while working eight and a half hours in the evenings, was not the wisest use of time for my young adult life. For one thing, it really put a damper on the social aspects. How can that be bad for the serious student?
The answer is simply this: university for the young adult is not just about studying. It is a time to learn about people. It takes time to get to know someone. I’m not talking about the young people who are not really serious about studying but signed up for university classes in hopes of finding Mr. Right or Mrs. Homemaker. It was so obvious that their potential mate-seeking radar was always working overtime. As a student, I thought their efforts a royal waste of money, but that’s because I took a couple of decades to get it. I had enjoyed a full, extracurricular life in high school but determined not to join all the clubs and focus on studying when I got to university. However, I missed the balance in my black-and-white way of thinking. It wasn’t an all-or-nothing deal. Balance was the key.
Yes, an important reason for university study was to earn a degree in some field; but, equally important, was the fact that the campus was, probably, the best arena to find thousands of young, single people. Many of those students would be like-minded and would widen my horizons if I gave them a chance. They haled from spots all over the country. The truth is that, while I was not going there in order to leave with a ring on my finger, it was a good place to meet a future mate.
In addition to the time-crunch, another major factor was, simply, shyness. Folks back home would find that unbelievable but, out of my element, I was quite shy. I found it hard to meet new people, especially guys. I regret not taking that part of my university education more seriously.
Yesterday’s post described our cute little first apartment and the way the paved driveway curved around and passed our front door. There was a place a bit farther away for parking, but it was also possible to just stop the car in front of the door or kitchen window.
One warm, sunny day just after the Fall Quarter had begun, I heard the sound of a motor zoom up the driveway and stop, directly in front of the screen door. Glancing out the window, I saw a familiar face standing there.
“John Mark! Hello, come in. So you’re back for second year, huh?”
“Yeah, I’m still in Forestry; how ‘bout you? Still Physical Therapy?”
“Nope, I’m Pre-Med now. Found out I was not likely cut out to be a P.T. when watching a film about new techniques to help paraplegics, literally, made me throw up.“
“You’ve got to be kidding!” John Mark was laughing hard, his disbelief obvious. “And, you don’t think you’ll find anything in medicine that will make you throw up, huh?”
“Could be but nothing I know about on this end anyway. Blood, guts and gore haven’t ever bothered me.” Then, I noticed the guy I had tutored in physics the previous year had something in his hand. “So, what ya got there?”
Hoisting up his gift, I saw a six-pack of dark German beer. “Thought you might like a dark, cool one on this hot day. Got a bottle opener?”
Suddenly struck by the fact that I had never given John Mark this address and it was not, exactly, located along the busy street, I puzzled at how he might have found me. “John Mark, where did you get this address? We just moved here a short while ago and I haven’t given anyone this address.” The hand with the bottled brew returned to its former position at his side.
“Yeah well, it isn’t like it’s on any visible pathway either! A guy’s gotta really want to find you to get to this place! I must admit I was just a bit nervous about turning into this driveway. I mean, you can’t see the house from the road at all. I wasn’t sure what was back here.” He was smiling, shaking his head.
“Exactly, so how’d ya find this place?”
Sheepish is the only way to describe his expression as he spoke. “Er, uh, this morning I saw you get into a car and I followed you. I just passed by the driveway and turned around at the end of the lane down there. I drove around a while, then decided to pick up something to offer you to drink. Kind of like an ice-breaker, ya know?”
“Hmmm, John Mark. That was nice of you and I’m glad you’re back this year, but Curt and I are together again. I’m not really interested in other relationships.”
John Mark reassured me that what had ended our period of dating last Spring would not happen again and pleaded with me to give him another chance. (To fill you in, in one long sentence: Our “engagement” had first been made known to me at a special family dinner in a local restaurant; each of the ladies in his family wanted to know the exact wedding date for their own planning.) Half an hour after his arrival at my apartment door, John Mark left with the unopened “dark, cool ones.” It was an entire year before I saw him again on campus.
I regret not giving John Mark a second chance because I know it must have hurt him. I sometimes wonder if he finished his degree and found his Mrs. Homemaker. I knew that I wasn’t it from what I had already experienced with John Mark; but, still, my main reason back then was lack of time to invest in a relationship. He was a really nice guy and, likely, there were others out there, too, but I’d never meet them.
I had known Curt since I was ten years old. He carried the music stand we shared over to the park from the school building. We dated in high school and had “gone steady” for much of our Senior year. We were comfortable with one another. I loved him, but wonder if that “known him since childhood” thing didn’t just make it easier to continue the relationship than to make the effort, invest the time and energy, into a new relationship. It’s always easier to look back than to see things clearly while they’re happening, isn’t it? Especially when one is a whopping nineteen years old!
How grateful I am that our understanding God forgives us of the many things we do in our youth and never holds it up before us! Forgiven is forgiven, period.
If you missed the earlier post about John Mark, the link is below:
****Sophomore Year: Major Change… Next Post