When I was a Freshman at UB, I was going to class one day along the Spine. There was a Black girl walking in front of me and I remember she had an Afro. I admired her so much for her hair being so pretty and the confident that she exudes as she walked to class. Several people stopped along the way to say hello to her and I was amazed. UB is such a huge school, with enrollment around 30.000 students. How is it that someone could become so popular at such a huge school? I set a goal that by the time I was a senior at UB, that I would be that popular.
And lots of people liked me there. I eventually had tons of friends from all different parts of the country and world, from all different kinds of backgrounds and walks of life. But as a freshman, especially in the early days, I was just one of 30,000 and it was overwhelming.
I wish I could give a pat answer as to what helped me get through it all, but it was various things. My friends, my mother’s encouragement, my own dogged determination to succeed, they all played a part. But by the time I left UB as a senior, four years later, I was that girl I admired. I couldn’t even walk through the Spine without being distracted by a friend of mine hanging out and looking for something fun to do.
But back in freshman year, I was at first a shy and overwhelmed girl. Then as I became closer to my friends, I became more outgoing and confident.
UB was a lot of fun. Even with me starting to go through my identity crisis, it was by far some to funnest days and nights I had experienced so far on my life.
I was exposed to all different types of music. I learned about rap from the white Jewish kids from downstate. I learned about psychedelic rock. I was learning about everything in between. It was an exciting time for a country hick from a a little cow town.
I got a job through my MAAP program at the inventory control department at school. It was a good job, but getting across campus to Crofts Hall. And it was wickedly cold to get across campus there during the Buffalo winter.
Did I mention that it was cold at UB? I’m not gonna lie and say that my house in Rushford was balmy, because it wasn’t. We would get drifts that were over my head and the piles of snow on the side of the road sometimes made it feel like a tunnel. Rushford was cold.
But not as cold as Buffalo and definitely not as the Amherst campus. It was just this wide open patch of swamp land that the wind loved to whip around. There was a corner of one of the buildings, Clemens Hall, where you literally could not open the door when it was windy. And it was freezing cold wind.
So going off campus or even going out of our dorm complex was limited to class time or the infrequent trips to the library. Ellicott complex was really a city within the city that was UB. There was a pub, a snackshop, computer lab, mini gyms, minilibrary, and just about anything else would need to stay happy.
There were two cafeterias and we lived right above one of them. Like most freshman, I had the full meal plan with the full declining balance to allow me to go to the cafe to get a sub or hamburger late night after dinner was over or lunch on the spine if i was there. I remember trying to spend all of that money toward the end of the semester because I had a lot left on my account.
I think that was how I became good friends with one of biggest influences on my time at UB. My friend Jim. He was from Syracuse so I thought that he was really cool. Remember I was a big Orange man fan. Jim and I had psych 101 together and we used to hang around with our group of friends.
It was Jim that got me to smoke weed for the first time. He’d keep asking if I wanted to and I’d say no. But then after a while I was curious about what the big deal was about it. I know that I drank and I drank a lot. But that had been it until that first night.
I don’t remember feeling high or really different, but I sat and played Super Mario Brothers, all by myself for hours. I liked this feeling and I felt at peace. But it wasn’t something that we did all the time (yet). However, since this was now something that Jim and I had in common, besides a love for SU, we became close friends.
But in true fashion of my destructive mind and other bad decisions, I became infatuated with my good friend and his rejection would serve to be the straw that broke the camels back.
And I tried to take my life for the first time.
I had broken through to the other side.
I had let the darkness over take me.