The winter of 2014 has reminded me of another winter which was a bit more brutal. This was the winter of 1996.
I had been attending Virginia Western Community College part time for about 2 years early in 1995 when I was laid off from First Union Bank on my fifth anniversary of working there. They gave me a framed "Certificate of Appreciation" which I placed on top of the pile of my office personal effects in a carboard box. Wasn't that gracious of them to be so appreciative? Assholes!!
Anyway, taking advantage of the situation, I was able to enroll in a worker's retraining program, continue my studies full time and all my tuition would be paid for as well as all my books with even a little left over for other materials. During this time I was also getting unemployment where I didn't have to look for a job since I was going to school full time. It wasn't all rosy and sweet believe me. I also had to move in with my brother which in itself is another story.
In the Fall of 1995, I was attending school full time. I was a 32 year old man going to school during the day with a bunch of kids. That too proved interesting since all my teachers were older and I basically would ask questions in subjects like Economics which flew over the heads of the young students. Remember I did have a five year banking background and I kept trying to apply real world concepts to what I was being taught in a college Economics course...silly me I know.
Fall semester came and went and I spent the Holidays as quietly and as cheaply as I could, keeping a low profile and trying to occupy myself as best I could. Around New Years Eve, which is also my birthday, a blizzard hit and school was closed that first week of 1996. No complaints there from me. It was my last semester and taking 17 & 1/2 credits was going to surely be a bitch. It was.
I went through that Spring semester of 1996 with very little sleep. Assignments and more assignments were being piled on me and for the life of me I just didn't think I was going to get through then a wonderful gift...another blizzard. About 24" of snow fell, I believe, in early April and school was closed for another week. I had everything I needed at home to complete my assignments. I had my trusty 90 mhz Compaq computer with all the programs on it to do my school work. I went to the grocery store before the storm hit, charged a bunch of groceries and some liquor on my credit card and came back home to get snowed in. My brother on these occassions would leave for his girlfriend's house and I wouldn't see him for a week which was actually a good thing since I needed peace and quiet and he always had to have a drama of some kind going on.
While I was snowed in, I would sleep a little, get up, even if it were 3:00 AM and work for hours on all those assignments I had to have finished before the end of the semester. I did every one of them during that week. When the roads were clear enough to go back to school, I had a pile of folder bound assignments waiting to be turned in. When they came due, I pulled one off the pile and handed it in. All I had to do the rest of the semester was study, take tests and final exams.
I graduated in May and even had a job lined up in about two weeks afterwards. It was an experience which changed my life and eventually led to me being able to get back into the arts doing theatre for a while and now recording and producing albums under my own recording label.
What started all this nostalgia was a picture a friend of mine, I met during that time at Virginia Western, posted on Facebook of himself and his partner from December 1995. He was such a young, cute kid then and he has now been with his partner nearly 20 years and has two beautiful children. I suppose that and all the snow this winter brought it all back.