Dearest Rachel –
For all the momentous decisions I had to make in my life, they should’ve been one upon which everything hinged. Had I not gone where I went, I would not have met you, we would have not become us… everything depended on this moment, on this choice. And while I’m sure I must’ve prayed about this at some point in time, I don’t remember it, and I certainly don’t remember any actual calling, any actual word from on high saying “yes this is the place you belong.”
To be sure, if memory serves me correctly, your decision hinged on a particularly strange factor as well. Your parents were insistent that you not attend Western, where they were professors, and where you all lived. Their conclusion was that, if you stayed at home to go to college, you would never leave. Whether they were right or not, we’ll never know. They merely insisted that you look elsewhere for higher education. And what drew you to Wesleyan? A bathtub. That’s right; they had bathtubs in the dorm you were shown (it’s a good thing you weren’t shown the down I called home throughout my university career, or again, we would never have connected).
So I don’t feel too bad about any rationale for my choices. Yes, I did have choices. I had acceptance letters from the U of I, Indiana, and – without even applying there – Illinois State University. But the recruiter at Wesleyan (Lee something or other – I cannot recall him surname offhand) was… quite persistent. He was quite insistent that I visit the campus, and take a look around. Honestly, I didn’t know what to make of the idea of a university that was smaller than my high school. But, as I had already visited both Champaign and Bloomington as part of doing my research, it seemed only fair to visit… wait, Bloomington, again? Yeah, I guess so – although in Illinois rather than Indiana – and give the place a fair hearing.
To be sure, Lee made it sound like one could be a big fish in a small pond, and I have to admit I kind of liked that idea. Keep up with my work in the band? Sure, we have a music school that wouldn’t suffer in comparison to Julliard (although, in retrospect, that should have been a warning rather than encouragement). You want to have a radio program? We’ve got a station on campus, and they take auditions every semester. Literary magazine? Hmm… I’ll have to look into that.
In short, there were plenty of extracurriculars to get involved in, so that I wouldn’t seem too much like the stereotypical business/accounting major.
And Lee wasn’t the only one trying to sell me on Wesleyan. The upperclassman who would eventually be my R.A., Craig – who was also one of the leaders of the InterVarsity chapter on campus – dropped by the house at one point, to take me shopping for various things I would need as an incoming freshman. To be fair, that was after I’d decided on Wesleyan, and had been assigned to his floor in the dorm, but still… would that have happened at a Big Ten school? Not hardly, I’d reckon.
No, I’m sure that at some point in time, I must’ve prayerfully considered which college to go to. But, and I’ve repeated this several times already throughout this series of letters, I simply don’t remember specifically having I done so, and I certainly don’t recall any sign from heaven, any voice saying “yes, Wesleyan; not U of I, not Indiana.”
To be honest, one of the weirdest things that stuck out from my visit to the campus – and I know you’re going to find this hilariously weird but yeah you and bathtubs after all – that they had Ramblin’ root beer in the cafeteria. I had discovered it a couple of years previously when our family took a road trip out to the grand Tetons. Some restaurant in Wyoming had it and I really, really liked it. Smooth, creamy, with just a hint of vanilla. And I couldn’t find it on this side of the Mississippi. But their cafeteria had it, and I was so pleased.
I’m not gonna say that that was the ultimate selling point, but it sticks in my memory because… I just remember it being something I appreciated. And the fact it was so picayune a reason to make such a momentous decision that I remember it at all. Now, what I didn’t know at the time, was that Coke and bought the brand and was trying to roll it out. Evidently, it didn’t succeed. And that’s why we have Barq’s these days – and so did the cafeteria, after only a year into my college career. You probably never even got a chance to taste the stuff. Not that I expect that it’s as good as I am talking about now. It’s just… I remember it. That’s all.
And that’s the thing. The decisions we make – even some of the biggest in our lives- aren’t always on the most rational of bases. And they certainly aren’t from some booming voice from the heavens, more’s the pity. I sure would’ve preferred to of heard from him. But the fact that things worked out so well, I can only assume that it was all within His will.
But even that conclusion is somewhat suspect. After all, the Jews of Jesus’ day tended to assume that material wealth and prosperity were signs of a blessing from God – and a number of us who call ourselves His followers tend to believe that, even to this day, if you consider the popularity of the so-called prosperity gospel. But he made a point of telling them the opposite might very well be the case. Wealth and riches might just as easily be a preventative from being in God’s will. So just because things are working out for me, doesn’t mean that I’m doing what He wants me to.
But as far as I was concerned, it was the only measurement that I had; all I knew to work with. Why would I think otherwise?
つづく (to be continued…)