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Sometimes it’s the patterns of life that create the comforting feelings of familiarity when we face new experiences.

When our children were young, one of the things we did each Christmas was to go “down town” to look at the lights, and walk by the windows of a department store that displayed creations from various artists on a theme. The displays were made predominantly of brightly colored candy—perfect for a “taste” of Christmas magic. The windows were discontinued some years ago, but we didn’t notice—our children grew up and we quit going down to see the lights.

Picture by Holly D.

Picture by Holly D.

This week we all got together again, with a grandchild this time, and after a leisurely dinner, we all walked around, looking at the lights, finding “baby Jesus,” and marveling at the magic. At the end of the evening we found ourselves passing by those windows again, where to my delight (though I guess my son had known and not said anything) the tradition had been renewed. So we gazed through the glass at the candy ornaments (this year’s design) with a new generation.

The pattern was familiar. Life was good.

In a different lifetime, I didn’t finish my college education. I haven’t minded so much, because I continue to learn, just not from an institution. With my employment at a private school, I was encouraged to “finish” my education. I’m not sure what lies ahead, but for now I am moving on that. I chose a university closest to me and began the process in September to take classes beginning the spring semester.  I took placement tests, had transcripts sent, and filled out all the online stuff.

Then nothing.  I am realizing that I am one very small fish in a very large pond. I spent a day on campus, sorting things out and helping them get me into the computers, going from one office to another, to the testing center and back again.

Then, despite countless emails, again, nothing. Back to campus.

The thing about this university is that it’s fairly new. Concrete walls, exposed, painted plumbing, and lots of large windows. It’s not the warm atmosphere my past experiences offered, nor does it have the feel of timeless values. But some things are good. Many of the buildings connect. I can walk from practically one end of campus to the other without ever going outside. That could be good in the winter.

Yesterday I walked it four times within an hour. With a fierce headache, achy muscles and a stuffed up nose. I wanted to scream or curl up in a corner and cry. Thankfully, my DH was just a few texts away and kept me going.

And today, I am official. I start classes in January.

And some patterns are reemerging. A song keeps playing in my head—an old Simon and Garfunkle one that I used to sing in that other lifetime when I’d cross the “quad” between buildings built in another era when walls were made of brick and you didn’t see the wires behind the lights. I’d kick up the autumn leaves along the sidewalk and scurry off to another class.