Tomorrow I make the 3 hour drive up north, to a place I once called (and still think of as) home. For likely the last time.
See, this weekend is the last Alumni Weekend at WWC – the Wisconsin Wilderness Campus – where I spent my first year of college. This is the last year that WWC will be open.
I know I’ve talked about WWC quite a bit, but I hope you’ll excuse me if I spend some more time on it. WWC was one of the best years of my life, so there are lots of stories that I love to tell. And I figure, maybe if I can tell my WWC story, which is difficult but happy – maybe I can tell my Mercy story too, which is difficult and not-so-happy.
Why is my WWC story difficult, if it’s happy? Well, for one, it’s over. And sometimes it hurts to think about it and remember those wonderful times because they aren’t here anymore. Especially now that WWC isn’t even going to be there to go back and visit. I’ve more or less lost touch with most of my class from that year, too – my WWC family. We’re still friends on facebook and all, but I rarely talk to any of them, much less see them.
The second reason it’s difficult is that, while amazing overall, and a thoroughly positive experience, it was a tough year in some ways. It was my first year away from my parents, and while that was a really good thing, it also took some getting used to. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. When you can’t trust the people around you, sometimes you lock yourself away behind thick walls. And then once you find yourself in a safe place, surrounded by people that you can trust, you start taking those walls down, and both the good and the bad come to the surface.
WWC was my first choice for college. I got a letter in the mail describing the program and I just knew. This was where I was supposed to spend my first year of college. I put in other applications too, of course, but WWC was always my first choice. My parents knew this. Still, when I got the acceptance letter in the mail, and excitedly showed it to my dad, the first words I remember him saying were, “So you’re still thinking of going there, huh?” (In a somewhat-disapproving tone.) “Um, YEAH! I decided that a long time ago!”
My parents didn’t exactly approve. They spoke of it like it was a joke, and so a lot of my relatives did too. Particularly, I remember hearing about how I was “going off to camp instead of college.” I hated that, because I felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously. Like my dreams for my future were a joke. And that hurt. I was thankful for the few relatives that did encourage and take me seriously.
I’m not sure if I’ve told this story on here before, so please excuse me if it’s a repeat. I was at the family reunion for my mom’s side of the family, and a distant cousin was talking with my dad and I. I don’t know him too well, but I know he’s a lawyer, he’s successful, respected. He asked me about what I was planning on doing for college, and I told him about WWC. He turns to my dad and says, with all sincerity, “You must be pretty proud of her.” My dad laughs, and says, “Well, we’ll see.” A split second of shock, and then I laugh it off. Embarrassed. Trying to cover for my dad, make out like it was just a joke. It may have sounded like a joke, and I’m sure that’s how he wanted it to sound. But it wasn’t. Not really.
In any case, the end of August finally arrived, and I was on my way up to northern Wisconsin and my first year of college…
(To be continued…)