I've actually been attending for a week now; which means I've been to all of my classes at least once (and most several times). But I didn't get the ID until Friday, which is my "day off" school (ha!). By then, I'd gotten my classes secured by getting a deferment and paying the first galloping chunk of the tuition down, ordered a copy of my DD-214 (discharge paperwork from the military) so that theoretically EVENTUALLY Uncle Sam will pay me back for most of this shit, bought all my books, finished securing a student loan to pay for the rest of the tuition (while I continue to wait for Unk Sam, who probably won't get around to me until AFTER this semester is over)... so yeah, really, going down to the basement of Russell House and having a fantastically un-flattering picture taken and printed onto a card was pretty much The Last Step.
I've been avoiding this so long, and even having decided to do it - for the second time - have been through so much shit trying to get it all locked down, that it was kind of a shock to realize that There's Nothing Left In The Way. Nope. It's Really and Truly Official Now - a large part of my identity is now "college student", and full time college student at that.
It's a kind of sobering, but gratifying feeling. I do feel a little out of place sometimes, but only a little, and I feel pretty respectable. A couple of people who don't even know me have made a point of telling me how much they respect and admire the fact that I am coming in as a 30-something full-time freshman.
And I have to admit, my current load of required-freshman-classes tends to be kind of interesting sometimes in a sociological way. There's so much fear and uncertainty, in this world of 18 and 19 year olds, that it makes me smile sometimes - hell, I remember what that feels like, I remember what that is like, but the fears you have when you're in your thirties are a lot different from the ones you have in your late teens and barely-20's. Funny how they're exactly where they're supposed to be, and having started in the fall semester they've been there a good half-year longer than I have... but I'm still the one looking around and marveling at so much uncertainty, and my self-confidence in the midst of it. It's a funny old world. (And to be honest, I'm confident now that I'm in the classes, but I sure as hell wasn't confident about getting there to begin with - without the love and support of friends and family (in particular, Emily and my mom) I don't think I'd have managed to get my sorry ass in there to begin with.)
Anyway, I'm pretty excited about all of this. It's a big heaping dose of structure in my life, and a feeling of accomplishing meaningful things, and I needed both pretty badly. Of course my first semester's courseload turned out to be entirely "freshman fodder" classes, but hey, what the hell - they have to get done, and it's a lot easier to accept that and smile now than it would have been back when I was seventeen. Also, VERY unlike when I was seventeen, I'll be putting in my level best attempt at four-oh-ing those "gimmes" now, instead of just seeking to put in the minimum effort required for a reasonable return - I want scholarships in the near future, dammit. And hopefully dispensations, too, so I can start taking CS classes a little earlier than I would otherwise; and maybe even to let me dig into some of them without having to get all of the usual required pre-reqs, in light of my having been in the industry for so many years already. This all feels good, but still pretty heady and uncertain; we'll see how it goes.
In unrelated news, I'm still in love, still frequently in pain, and still very much wandering through uncertainty and emotional miasma, not knowing what the heck will happen or when. Wisdom would seem to dictate that I Just Move On from that - but while I'm not inclined to dispute that wisdom, I don't seem to be ready to listen to it either, and I don't know when - or if - I really will be. In the meantime, I'm hanging in there, and hoping satori will carry me through to more joyful days. And of course, luckily there is more in my life to focus on now; so I'm doing precisely that.