Nostalgic Endings

Nostalgic Endings

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I’m doing something different this month. I’ve been researching all the forces aligned against us for months, and it really hurts I must say. And now for something completely different.

I’m currently sitting on my tiny balcony as the day dies. It was sunny, warm, and pleasant. I rode the bus downtown a few hours ago, as I knew there would be no available parking spaces. Once there, I ran an errand and stopped by two of my favorite haunts for some drinks. As I write this (and, I assume when I type it later) I have a nice buzz. Why was there no parking downtown?

This weekend, the PSU experience of 46,000+ ends with graduation. Downtown is swarmed with graduates and their families. Via posts online, I’ve learned that I’m not the only one that felt depressed about leaving when I graduated in 1989. I was depressed for, well, a long time.

There are those who say Penn State is a cult. In many ways, it is. Most Penn Staters are fanatics about the school and bleed blue and white. For decades, Penn State was a core of my identity (along with alcohol and anger.) Heck, I even wrote a book about my time there. That was shattered in 2011 when the Sandusky scandal rocked the school. I couldn’t believe it- PSU stood for integrity and hard work, and then. . . this. I still love PSU, and Happy Valley is still my “happy place,” but it is no longer core to my identity. Now to think of it, I really don’t have a “core” to my identity anymore. That’s a topic for another day.

banner by signsI’ve never been good with endings. While they are as inevitable as death, I hate them. I want some things to go on forever. Is that too much to ask? Some endings destroy me. I’ve never gotten over being thrown out, or Lisa’s death, even though both are now ten years past. And in some ways, I’ve never gotten over leaving Penn State. My last semester was student teaching, so in many ways I was “robbed” of a semester there. Of course, I chose education, so I knew what I was getting into. Some endings I have no problem with- like leaving most jobs. Even Games Workshop, whose people felt like family, was easily put in the past soon after I left in 2003. I miss the people though. And I miss the house Wife and I owned.

I miss all my friends at the gatherings of Angela’s Laptop Lounge, and at The Raven.

People are the key. That’s the Truth that so many miss. It’s not the buildings or even the traditions that make times and places like Penn State special- it’s the people you knew and loved, some of whom you never see again. In so many ways, PSU is about ghosts of memories. Oh for a little while I was able to visit and see younger friends, but eventually they too graduated. Just like people leave jobs. That’s when it really hits- all your friends are gone.

For us alumni of the school, the hard part is that we never outgrow Penn State. Penn State outgrows us. It keeps going. A class graduates and is replaced in a few months by another class, often bigger than the one that it replaced. Another group begins what for most is a magical time of their lives.

Of course, for some, there is tragedy. People die. Some are assaulted. Too many fail out because they party too hard. Some lose their funding. Some just… leave. Like all things, University isn’t for everyone. Some would thrive in trade schools, or just other universities. Some just can’t thrive due to whatever demons pursue them.

me as graduate in 1989


However, for some, it’s the demons that drive us forward. I HAD to go to college to prove to myself and others (especially my parents) that I COULD do it- that I was worth something. That I wasn’t worthless. That drive carried me through my master’s degree, as I felt empty and figured another degree would help me make more money and provide my Wife with a life she deserved. That never happened. Now I’m back in Happy Valley, five years into my PhD. I’ve passed the tests to become an ABD (All but dissertation). I’m an expert in my field. Hopefully, if I can push past this depression roadblock, I’ll eventually graduate again, now at the pinnacle of the academic world.

Then what?

I don’t know.

I am applying for jobs. I’d like to make enough to provide my daughter with college if she wants it, and so that my roomie/bestie Linda can finally retire and enjoy life (she has worked very hard all her years.) Me? I’d love to not have to worry about how I’m going to meet my bills at the end of every month without selling plasma or selling things on eBay.

So here I sit as the sun sets, on my balcony writing in one of my little notebooks. I’m drinking water but may switch to Jack and whatever. Then I’ll type this in and submit it. The day fades to gloaming then dark.


I’ve been writing this column for over a decade. Thirteen years maybe? Someday, my readership will drop to the point where I am replaced by someone whose writing is more compelling and less whiny. That’s life. I’ll still write, but it just won’t be published except for my blog that few read.

“Consigned to oblivion, as I myself must soon be to the mansions of rest. I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize the sweet enjoyment of partaking. . .the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust Of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.”

Time marches on and outgrows us all.

Be well.

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul


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