I have been going to school off and on pretty much all my life. Obviously from ages 5 to 18, I went to regular school. After high school, I took a break (wish I had not), then went back to school at age 23 for a couple of years. That petered out, and I took a much longer break again.
I finally returned to school in the fall of 2002 (I think... not entirely sure anymore, it may have been 2004). I've been taking classes almost every fall and spring since, usually two or three at a time. Still, it takes a long time to get to where I've gotten now. To where I got to last night.
Last night I walked out of a classroom at the University of Baltimore for the last time. I had taken my last final; handed in my last paper; shook the hand of my instructor, Dan, whom I also had known as a student before. I must have a had one stupid, shit eating grin on my face because he looked at my funny and I spewed "this is my last class, I'm graduating. Finally!" Everyone began clapping and congratulating me, I grinned all the way out, exclaiming "It only took 25 years!". Then I waved good bye and they all turned back to their tests.
On the way to my car, I became a little verklempt. This was the last time I would be taking such a walk, late at night after class, getting ready to head home. I had finally achieved one of the biggest goals in my life, a goal I had set for myself from the time I was in grade school. There were many missed opportunities along the way, many delays, the intrusions of life. Nothing I regret, just choices made.
But now... I'm a college graduate. In a bit more then a week I'll walk down the aisle and receive my (fake) diploma, my Bachelors of Science degree in Simulation and Digital Entertainment. And eventually my real diploma, which I will carefully frame and hang on the wall someplace. Whether or not I can use the degree for anything useful doesn't matter... what matters is that I EARNED it. Through many late nights, weekends, and even a few week day courses I managed to sneak in with my bosses permission.... I earned my degree. I earned the 3.9+ gpa I'll have when these last two classes are graded out.
This is the man I want to be, that I choose to be. The man who has a dream, and who accomplishes it. Thank you to my family for instilling me with that. Thank you to my wife for supporting that part of me, and for loving the dreamer as well.
Thank you, myself, for doing what you said you would do.... fuck, but I'm a proud bastard right now....