I think I’ve been away from this blog for a while because I’ve been trying not to write this entry….
I didn’t want to write this. I didn’t mean to write this…but I need to write this before I can look either backwards or forward with any additional clarity.
It’s what’s on my mind and has to be exorcised…
I’m going to write about my college years. I meant to stop before I got here. I meant to save this for the book….
But I really can’t move on until I introduce this part of myself into the dialogue. It’s too much a part of who I am.
This is hard for me to write. I’m going to be as general and evasive, yet truthful, as possible, but I have to write this….
See, I woke up one night recently, crying in my bed, silent tears running down my face…..I had been dreaming about these boys and who we were and who we are…and I have to weave them into the narrative or I can’t honestly go on with this experiment…
I guess it’s part of being “middle-aged” and some sort of middle-aged crisis….
They are too much of a part who I am not to recognize them….I value them too much. They mean too much to me to pass them by…
Let me tell you about college….
I went to college to get away from Danville and all the stuff I’ve written about so far. That was my sole goal….To me, college was an escape. I didn’t think any further than that….I wanted to be out of Danville and away from anything and everything I knew.
I wanted to start over….
I wanted a fresh start in a new place-preferably with a few close friends within driving distance to support me if I got into trouble….but I wanted to be somewhere new and relatively alone.
My dream was to go to Boston University. As far away-geographically and culturally- as possible. My Father promptly put an end to that fantasy. He said “There are plenty of good schools in Virginia, you can apply to UVA, W&L and William and Mary. That’s it. You have the grades to get into any of them and that’s good enough for you. I want you close enough where I can keep an eye on you…”
I somehow knew Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia was the only place for me. At least it was on that list….
And he meant it….my second day at W&L, I was having lunch and cocktails, feeling young and free, on the patio at Trotters in Lynchburg with my friend Van, from Danville, and her new friends from Randolph Macon Woman’s College, when my Father suddenly showed up.
He said it before Clint Eastwood: “You can run but you can’t hide. I will always find you.” He had been to W&L and somehow tracked me down. I knew then new this separation thing was going to be harder than I thought.
But it was a separation. It was a defining time in my life….It was both the most wonderful and painful time I’ve ever lived….
I will admit, I was too much under the influence of F. Scott Fitzgerald when I went to W&L. I had real everything he had ever written.
My parents used to argue about whether I was named for him- my father said “yes,” I was….My Mother said “no”. But then, she had not read a book since “Gone With the Wind” and I’m not sure she knew who Scott Fitzgerald was….she should have known Zelda…..
My Mother claimed I was named for the actor Randolph Scott, who was descended from the Virginia Randolph’s who were supposedly related, by marriage, to my Father’s family. I didn’t get all that….
I just knew I was “Scott” and there was some cosmic connection to all this family weirdness that I wanted to put behind me and forget….I was young and didn’t yet know that was impossible.
I will admit, I spent my first week at W&L, re-reading Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Far Side of Paradise.” That may have been the root of my unrealistic expectations…
But, college really was a Fitzgeraldian Fantasy for me….
Probably more along the lines of “The Great Gatsby.” I always related to Nick Caraway in that book. And I felt like Nick all through the W&L years….The outsider observing….a little bit in love with Gatsby-all the Gatsby’s and Daisy’s and Jordan’s….
And W&L really was like one big party at Gatsby’s …or so, it seemed. Until the party ended…suddenly and surprisingly.
And maybe it really was one of Gatsby’s parties….
More to come….