Different This Time Around

Polly and I went to tour the classroom/shop, where about a dozen students were in the processing of framing a wall. We introduced ourselves to the instructor, who said we should be fine starting mid-trimester. We’ll be there to start the plumbing unit.

“So you think by Christmas I could re-tile my bathroom?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said, and I could tell he thought it was a little sad that I couldn’t already do that. What kind of people can’t re-tile a bathroom? Polly and I can’t.

Actually, that’s not true. We’re pretty sure we can re-tile a bathroom. All we need is some instruction, the right tools, and a little encouragement.

That’s why we’re taking the class together—to encourage each other. Even at a combined 100 years old, we have anxiety about our first day of school. Polly is anxious about stepping into a classroom of strangers. I am anxious about inconveniencing my family—three middle-school boys and a husband who already does more than his fair share of driving kids, cooking dinner, and helping with homework. I hate to load more carpools on my husband, and it’s going to be a race to get from the kids’ school to my school by 7:30 a.m. four days a week. That’s why I asked the instructor, “What happens if I’m a few minutes late to class every single day?”

He started by saying he would keep track of the hours required for certificate completion, but then he stopped and said something along the lines of “You are a grown-ass woman, and you can be late every single day if you want. I’ll be here at 7:30 a.m., and it’s no skin off my nose if you can’t re-tile your bathroom by Christmas.”

To be clear, he didn’t actually say that, but that’s what I heard as Polly and I prepared to reenter higher education at 100 years old. This time, we’re not going to school for the piece of paper. We’re doing it to change our lives. I expect it will be very different from our last college experiences. I know for a fact there will be less beer.

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