22. Sophomore Year

Greg, Rod, John and I had become really good friends throughout freshman year.  The four of us had a lot of good times together then.  I even hitchhiked to Charlottesville, VA with Rod for no apparent reason, at least none that I can recall.  It was something new and interesting to do and we were, after all, immortal.  We knew that nothing that we did would ever harm us.  Such is the life of every college freshman.

As the year began to close we had to be thinking about getting an apartment for the next year.  John, Greg, and I got a place in Brighton and Rod went back to Tucson.  This would be my first attempt at what would be referred to as housekeeping.  I had no idea what I was doing and I’m sure Greg and John didn’t either, but we did our best to do a little cooking and try to keep the place at least passably clean.

The apartment scene was all about the college kids.  There were apartments available for the approximately 250,000 kids that would need them and there was a mad scramble in April and May for the best places.  Ultimately though, life in an apartment wasn’t too much different from the dorm.  The parties continued and the drugs were still everywhere only now there were even fewer people watching what you were doing.  The big difference was that now there were girls around.  John and Greg, especially Greg had a parade of women coming in and out of the apartment all the time.  I still wasn’t ready.  I was still in sensory overload from all the new things that were happening and I was still remembering what happened the last time I got serious about a girl.  I was, and continue to be a one woman man.  A different girl for every night of the week wasn’t something that ever interested me.

The first quarter went by and it was now time for me to go to work.  Through the work-study program at school I got a job for the second quarter at Honeywell Information System Inc. in Newton Highlands.  I had thought at the time that Greg and John were amused that I wore a tie to work, but that was just me.  John has since told me that he and Greg just thought that maybe I knew something that they didn’t.  The job, and the company were just awful.  It was boring and brain-dead work that made no sense to me.  If I had wanted to I could have started a pretty good career there as a programmer, but I thought the whole thing was just stupid.  But they paid me money, which I desperately needed.  This was the result of another of my father’s beliefs.  When he went to college in the 1930’s he got a full ROTC scholarship.  But he had to get a job to pay his living expenses.  Since that was what he had to do, that was what I had to do.  He would pay the tuition; I had to pay for everything else.  Greg and John could pay the rent, have fun, and even buy a car; I would always have trouble just paying the rent.  I felt bad about it, but there was little I could do.

For the fourth quarter I got a job at the Lynn Daily Evening Item.  I had never taken a journalism class but somehow I ended up as a cub reporter for this small newspaper.  Mostly I put money in the parking meters for everyone else, and went out and got coffee for the office, but there were some special times when I was sent to actually cover a story.  I have to admit that was pretty cool.  I learned two very important things while I was there; I learned to type and I learned to write.  Yes, that was ‘type’, not keyboarding, whatever that is.  This wasn’t the kind of writing you would learn in a classroom, this was real world clear and concise journalism.  After a while I got my own by-line and would see my copy in the paper.  I knew that I was not going to be a reporter as my career but I was learning new things and that was the important thing.  I was also exposed to a wide variety of new people and new perspectives.

For the previous few years I was the captive of my father’s perspective on everything.  In a lot of ways he made a lot of sense.  As I got older I began to discover how terribly dated his beliefs were and how they had already affected my decisions so far.  Despite not being ready, I was a part of the college perspective of the 1960s.  This new life was everything that my home life was not.  It was free and open with little demands on my time.  It was filled with music, parties, drugs, liquor, and girls.  Then I began to work and I was exposed to a third perspective; that of working business people who’s beliefs were in the current generation, not in the 1930s.  It was enlightening but it made everything so much more complex.  I would go to work during the day and fit in very well there.  Then I would come home to the apartment and fit in very well there.  But when I went home for the weekend to see my parents, I was beginning to see some holes in their logic and increasingly I wasn’t fitting into what they wanted me to be.

I found that life at home would never be the same.  I was no longer a product of just my father’s teaching.  I was becoming the product of 3 perspectives and I was changing rapidly.  My new cousins could see it right away and mentioned it to me.  My father never acknowledged that anything had ever changed and continued to maintain his rigid beliefs. He also continued to exert those beliefs on me.  It would be the beginning of major changes in our relationship.  For us to maintain our relationship we would both have to bend.  I was bending now in 3 different directions.  Increasingly I discovered that my father considered this a contest of some kind.  He could not bend because that would mean defeat, and he would not be defeated.   Looking back it seems such a shame that our great relationship that had grown during my early years would decline so rapidly for such nonsensical reasons. But it was his way.

© J T Weaver

About J T Weaver

The author of "Uphill Both Ways," a thought provoking series of stories about life, family, and growing up.
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9 Responses to 22. Sophomore Year

  1. Nice reporting, JT. Sophomore Year. That’s when the trips home began to taper for me. This in an effort to self preserve the new identitiy, I think. Sad trips. I just wanted to feel I could go home and feel loved and accepted by my parents. Couldn’t anymore. It was conditional. Sigh.


  2. Great story. Thanks for following my blog.


  3. John Manno says:

    Yes, we thought it odd that you wore a tie, but far from ridiculing it Greg and I somehow thought that you knew something that we didn’t. Or that we would have a more difficult time adjusting to post-collegiate life. Regardless, the differences among us were not substantial and helped all three of us mature (however slightly!) into what we were to become.


  4. Cindy Wayland says:

    Interesting how being out “on our own” (job, our own place to live) molds and shapes our thinking in so many ways. I hope that, when our kids move out and move on, I can “bend” with them in order to maintain a good relationship with them….


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