I had been on a Greyhound bus for 24 hours.
I was cramped, stiff, bored and cold. During the interminable bus ride from Ohio to the farthest regions of Michigan state–a place I’d never even heard of before this, called the U.P.–the temperatures had dropped at least a good twenty degrees. I’d been forced to sit next to a man for 2 hours around Detroit, who’d then insisted on talking to me about their declining economy. For a day my meals were quickly-eaten gas station takeaway or carrot sticks. The only good thing, as far as I could tell, was that my grandmother was on the bus with me, and for the last leg of the journey we’d even gotten to sit together.
And then we arrived, dropped off at a locked-up bus station in God-knew-where at 5AM in the morning. Even through my coat I was freezing. In Ohio the weather had been nice for a month. In Northern Michigan there were still snowbanks, and I could see my breath. I was tired, but my Grandma’s energy refused to let me wallow in my post-travel negativity. We’d traveled all that way for Wildcat Weekend, and it was going to be my first time seeing the campus where I might spend the next 4 years of my education. She was determined that I get the full experience, and I did my best to match her enthusiasm.
Starving for warmth, and even a bit for food I could sit down immobile and eat, we took a taxi through the frozen and sleeping town to a Perkins. I don’t remember what we ate, or what we talked about. Just that my gram had brought 2 pairs of shoes along, and she left one of them in the Perkin’s restroom. “I didn’t want them any more anyway, and it seemed easier than lugging them around,” she told me when we were on our way.
First thing was a welcome speech, which I slept through without a single ounce of guilt. In fact, most of the school activities ran together in a blur of academia, confusion, newness, being cold, and having no idea where I was at any given time. I remember a large blow-up head of Wildcat Willy. You walked through his mouth to get into the Student Center. I feel like I talked to people, took pamphlets, and got advice about what I could expect as a new student.
But really, the only things I remember are spending time with my grandmother.
After the activities were done for the day we still had hours to wait–our bus wasn’t due to pick us up and head back to Ohio until 1AM. So we did what any normal people would do. Got Chinese food. Explored the (tiny) town of Marquette. And, when we didn’t have any energy left to run on, sat through two movies that neither of us would have gone to see under any other circumstances. (Paul Blart Mall Cop and Confessions of a Shopaholic.) We were the only people in the theater both times–save one other person. And for the sake of that one other patron, I had to keep waking Gram up to keep her from snoring. There was a leak in the ceiling. A bucket sat in one of the seats to catch the drips.
Finally the day ended, we caught a taxi back to the creep-tastic bus station, and we boarded our ride back for another fun-filled 24 hours home. I think I slept that whole bus ride–I remember nothing about it, until Gram was shaking my shoulder gently and telling me that we were there–so exhausted was I from three days on the move.
How I was sure that NMU would be the right college for me, I don’t really know–since obviously my first impressions and memories were scanty at best. (Of course it all worked out in the end.) But after such an adventure to get there, I knew that school in the U.P. was the right choice for me.
Plus Gram loved it up here, and let’s face it–who can say ‘no’ to their Granny??