Thursday, June 23, 2011

Changing Majors

I can remember the way the leaves showed me their light green bellies as I walked up to the biology building in 1996. My feet moved forward but my heart stayed with the trees. My body executed movement but my mind swayed like a fat hammock in the space between stone and dirt. My mouth practiced the words to the dean of Animal Sciences but my thoughts mellowed over the rhythmic bounce of a student's backpack on his tailbone. Everyone seemed so sure of where they were going.

I changed majors that day.

Went from Liberal Arts to Animal Sciences in my fourth year of college.

I went home and cried my eyes out. Practicality won and my gypsy soul was shattered.

I took one course about cow stomachs and horse hooves. We all sat shoulder to shoulder in a bleacher filled for the final exam. There was a boy motioning to me in the hallway. I couldn't concentrate on the test question about liver enzymes. I pointed to the girl next to me, he shook his head no. I pointed to the boy on my other side, and he shook his head no. He wanted me. I smiled. I finished my exam, wrote a poem about tree nuts then turned in my paper to the front desk before looking for the boy in the hallway who wanted me to join him.

Of course, he was gone.

But I knew what I had to do.

The next day I changed my major again. Then I submitted a poem (not about tree nuts) to a writing contest for the English Dept. I did not win first or second or even third place. I did, however, earn honorable mention. I accepted the invitation for the award's ceremony, then walked out before filling up my water glass because really, it was only honorable mention, probably a consolation prize for the other poor dejected applicants.

One year and several writing courses later, I learned there were hundreds of submissions to that little poetry contest I tried out for and there was only one honorable mention. Me...the one who ditched the party for a walk around a music shop and a visit with my favorite golden retriever through a wire fence.

All this to say, sometimes you need to change majors even when you don't fully understand why.

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