Blindly flailing at the screeching alarm, I saw the red digital numbers taunting me of the early 4:00 AM hour. I turned on my bedside lamp, yellow light pooled around me, beckoning me to get up and in the shower. With half opened eyes, I dressed, only opening them fully once I left the apartment and locked the door.
It was a short drive to the BART station and on autopilot, I parked, grabbed my loaded backpack, bought my ticket and hopped on the train. I travelled from one end of the line to the transfer station, switched trains, and rode the next train all the way to the other end of the line. I hustled to make it to the shuttle bus to ride the rest of the way to campus.
Arriving on campus with time to spare, but zero energy and not prepped for morning classes was not a great start to the day. The plan to get class reading done while on the commute into the city was impossible to put into action after barely three hours of sleep each night. I attended my two geography classes, an international relations class, and one on the history of the Bay Area as a zoned out zombie.
After the last seconds of the last class ticked by, I raced to catch the first available shuttle back to BART to repeat the morning’s trip into the city, only in reverse…shuttle bus, BART train to the transfer station, switch trains and ride to the end of the line, where my car was. I hopped into my small Smurf blue car, the Smurfmobile, and headed straight for work. Swing shift allowed me to attend class in the morning, but it also had me in bed around one o’clock in the morning every night.
Two weeks into this routine and what had been tugging at me every day, threatening to pull me over, finally made its last hard yank. There was no way I could sustain this schedule.
The Bay Area history class instructor was firing off information and asking us questions, but I didn’t hear a word he said. Thoughts ping ponged through my skull, questions filled with doubt fired rapidly. I was supposed to go to school. I wanted to go to school. I had to work. I spent more time getting to and from each location than I actually spent in those locales. Every single cell screamed to get out. And all the supposed to’s got louder.
I needed backup. In a race to secure support to stand against the firing squad in my head, barking orders to not deviate from ‘The Plan’, I left class, heading straight for the payphone on the floor.
A short phone call gave me the reassurance I needed to take a different path, to do what was right for me. After, I marched to Admissions, filled out the paperwork and withdrew from school, just in time to still get a full refund.
While my decision kept me out of school that semester, it led me to making a better choice. And because of it, I wouldn’t graduate right smack ‘on time.’ Though, doing it my way, it was the first step on the next path that led me to moving to a new-to-me part of the Bay Area, changing schools, living and working in a location that didn’t include an insane commute or working too many hours of overtime. And later, it had me just where I was supposed to be to create the life that I’m now living.
The Red Dress Club has had a major change, moving over to Write on Edge and in the spirit of that change, this week's RemembeRED prompt is: to write about a time when you knew something in your life had to change drastically.