Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Freshman at Cayuga - Part 1

There was a special Greyhound bus from the town next to ours on Long Island going to Cayuga College and mom dropped me off in the parking lot of the mall. She gave me a hug and off I went with my green duffle bag in the belly of the bus.

Free at last and out of the nest. I enjoyed the scenic ride from Long Island to Upstate New York. First via the Long Island Expressway to the Cross Island Expressway, to the Throgs Neck Bridge,


up Route 95 to Route 287 and over the Tappan Zee Bridge,


through the Catskill Mountains, and into the Finger Lakes region of New York State to Cayuga College. The Finger Lakes region was home to dairy cows and apple orchards; beautiful rolling country it was. It was a ride I would become very familiar with over the years to come.

The bus stopped right on Campus and dropped me at my dorm. My bag was off loaded and I carried it to the door. There I was met by a student who I gave my name to and got my room assignment. I had planned to be in an all girls wing this semester. I could have gone coed, but wasn’t up to seeing boys in the bathroom first thing in the morning yet. I had also heard that it was a loud non-stop party in those parts of the dorm and I was a lame ass nerd who treasured her sleep. So, all girls it was. I was tripled. The door was open and I was the last one into the room. There was one bed on the right, and that was taken and a bunk bed on the left, and the bottom one was taken. I took the top bunk. The girl who had the bed on the right was very pretty, or at least she thought and acted like she was and her name was Janice, from Fayetteville near Syracuse. I remember she used to curl her lashes every morning and I had never seen anyone use a lash curler before. The girl who slept on the bunk beneath mine was tall, reedy thin and very blond and her name was Hannah. She was from Riverhead, Long Island. Janice was an education major and Hannah was an art major. Janice had also taken the entire closet on the right. Hannah and I had to share the one on the left. That was okay with me since I didn’t own too many things. It took me no time at all to unpack and the final touch, to hang my Lord of the Rings poster over my bed.

Suddenly, there was all kinds of noise in the hallway as a rowdy group of non-freshmen boys rushed by. Some of them barged into our room. They grabbed up Janice and carried her out. Hannah and I just looked at each other. We looked out the window and could see the courtyard was all muddy and the upperclassmen were throwing the freshman girls into the mud. Everyone was laughing and having a grand old time. Some time later, Janice returned to the room all muddy complaining that she would never get the mud out of her white cotton blouse. But I could see the glint in her eyes. She had met somebody. One of the boys had caught her eye. She kept complaining about how rough they were with her. But, she protested a bit too much, if you know what I mean.

We all decided to go to the cafeteria for dinner together. But, we never really did get along well as friends during the time we lived together in the dorm.

I worked out my schedule. I exempted freshman biology (botany and zoology) by getting a 4 in AP bio so took cell biology at 8 am (yawn). I showed up to the first class, the professor opened the text and started reading. I never attended class again but got a B+ in the course. I had to take freshman English because I only got a 3 in AP English. I chose to take an essay exam to attempt to get an exemption from that. The question was to write an essay about someone you admire. I wrote about my mother and how I admire her because she does what she says she will. Needless to say, I exempted with ease and the professor put his arm on my shoulder and called me a gem. So I took English in from the Canterbury tales to Shakespearian times, which I just love. I also had to take Calculus A and freshman Chemistry. I also took French. Three credits of physical education were required at Cayuga, so I took intermediate ice skating for half the semester, since I have ice skated since I could walk, and jazz dance for the other half. Laboratories were required with cell bio and chemistry and those were 3 hours each on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. My schedule was loaded with academic stuff.

Also, I had been accepted as part of a work-study program, since I didn’t have any money to pay for room and board and had taken out New York State Higher Education personal loans to pay for these. So to earn money the school had found me a job working for the Cayuga’s chemistry department. I reported to a Mr. Dayly, who was very nice and had strawberry blond hair which he wore slicked back. He looked very Irish. He explained that I could unpack chemistry supplies, set up experiments for lab classes, and stack the shelves with glassware and chemicals and that sort of thing. Later on, he showed me how to make up unknowns, which made me very popular in class. (To test the students’ ability to identify chemicals, unknowns would be presented to them and they would be asked to determine what they were. I knew the answers since I had made them.) All this work really prepared me for the lab work place, though at the time, I didn’t realize it. I was pretty much busy from 8 am to 5 pm.

Most important though, was that the school had a well known synchronized swim team that I wanted to try out for. That would be my dream come true to swim with them competitively. The indoor pool at Cayuga was six lanes wide and 50 meters long and had underwater viewing and music capabilities. It was perfect for synchronized swimming. In our old high school pool we had to count to stay with our music. The day of the tryouts they had the underwater music on! I was so excited! They let us warm up and there were about 30 girls there for the tryout. What a mob scene. The coaches wanted us to scull to the center, perform a ballet leg, go to a bent leg and perform a bent leg dolphin coming back to the surface. They then wanted us to move to a forward position and perform a catalarc, which is a move I was familiar with but rarely practiced. A catalarc is when you swim forward, prone and dip the top half of your body perpendicular to the surface of the water bending at the waist, the lift a leg out of the water and raise the other one while twisting 90˚ and bringing both legs together only as you enter the water. Then your entire body drops straight into the water and the finish is coming up normally with a big smile. Show off that I was, I performed the scull out perfectly, did the ballet leg as high as possible, did a perfect bent leg dolphin, and then from that position, I sculled in place and let my feet drop and the power sculled them up behind me, while keeping my body straight, which is very difficult to do. Try it sometime and you will see. Then I had my prone position from which took a stroke or two and then I luckily nailed the catalarc.

These women are performing ballet legs.

This woman is begining a dolphin. She will continue to pull her body in a circle under water, keeping her legs straight, arching her back and using only her arms.

It was up to the coaches now. I had done the best I could and I felt great about my tryout. Sometime later the results were in and I ran down to the pool to see if I had made the team. I MADE THE TEAM. I was one of two girls out of the entire 30 that made the team. What an honor! I ran down to talk to the coaches. They told me that work outs were daily from 3-5 pm. I was stunned. I had assumed that workouts would be in the evening. They said that no, those times were taken by the competitive swim teams and open swims for student and the public. I told them that I had science labs and had to work for the chemistry department during the workout times. They just shook their heads. I felt it all slipping away. My dreams. I just let it go. Guess I had to focus on work. What a bummer.

10 comments:

Shaney said...

Sue...It is so sad to see someone's dream within reach & then suddenly vanish for reasons we (back then) anticipated were for the best. There is so much I regret I never got the chance to do as a younger guy...I know it will never happen now, it is just one of those regrets that you try not to let linger too long...No matter how much you wished for it now.
Did I make any sense?...Sorry not with it today.

Sue said...

Yeah. I just had to let it go really quick and not dwell, just like you say. But I still swim and remember. You just nailed exactly how I feel about it. You are so with it. Sigh.

G Cracker said...

Oh, that is so disappointing!! :(

Sue said...

Hmm, mmm.

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