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Rampage Columns


Apr 18, 2012

Write a letter to the president of your college nominating your faculty advisor for...


I pick up my pencil and start making marks on plain white paper. Three pieces. I can mess two up before the third one. I’m worried about form more than content. Form and silly errors like misspelled words that I should never misspell.


I write the wrong word. I ignore the temptation to cross it out and finish. Thirty minutes is plenty of time to restart. And so I do.


Next paper. Next try. This time I write too big. There are too many words and I can’t sign my name. I ask for the time. Fourteen minutes. I have one more try. I write smaller, make my margins smaller – this one has to be perfect.


At the end I feel like my spacing is wrong, but my letter is good. I can write; writing is what I do. But perfecting form is not my forte, and I’m worried that I messed up. I hand in the papers and walk out.


“How’d you do?” asks Mrs. Shoemaker.

“The content was awesome, but I’m not sure about form.”


High fives and “I’m sure you did great” and general encouragement follow. I find out who has the next performances, play piano, and finally, go to lunch across the parking lot.


Awards are given out, and I win first prize in my competition: Business Communications. But honestly, winning an award was not the best part of the trip.


Eating hot Krispy Kreme in the 15-passenger van, watching Kenssy be convinced that these doughnuts really are the best in the world. Sitting in the massage chairs in the mall, wandering through Dick’s Sporting Goods dreaming about hiking trips and kayaking down rivers and across lakes.  Playing Adele on the piano in the hotel lobby and teaching others to do the same. Listening to Mrs. Shoemaker’s stories, and telling her ours. Leaning against my seatbelt to hear better, to be a part of a conversation full of laughter and shared experiences. Falling asleep and waking up just as fast because you don’t want to miss anything.


Awards are good and competitions are rewarding. But awards and papers are not as important as friendships and laughter. Over time I will forget that I had to write a letter in a room. I will forget the speakers and the ceremonies and the formality.


But I will remember that massage chair and the stories and conversation we had in the van. I will remember the laughing and knowing of friendship. I made more friends, and I am so thankful for the opportunity.


When I woke up at six in the morning to leave for Richmond, I had no motivation. I wanted to sleep. I had a to-do list that was making me feel old. But as the weekend progressed, I stopped caring about all the other things that needed to be done in that time.


Life is full of too many responsibilities that take too long to get done. And sometimes I feel like I’m tied up and can’t get away because of all that I have to do. But sometimes it is OK to let today’s work wait until tomorrow. Sometimes today offers an adventure.