Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Full Circle Oprah Moment

When I was little (like, elementary school age), my family lived on the opposite side of town from where my parents live now.  It was a nice neighborhood to be a kid in:  at a time where things still felt "safe". Kids could play in the street, and we were closely surrounded by neighbors we got along with for the most part.  

I had neighborhood friends across the alley, at the end of the block, and a street over.  And the Eisenhower family lived in the white house down the street (I always thought it was catchy that the "Eisenhowers" lived in the "white house".  Get it?)  The people across the alley had a giant fish tank I was enamored with.  The boy at the end of the block (Ryan Something), used to come play hide and seek at our house.  We would play with walkie talkies, and the last time he came over to play, I "hid" in the playhouse in our backyard, with the windows and doors locked so he couldn't "tag" me.  I stayed there for about half an hour, until he got fed up and went home. He never came over again.

The friend on the next street over (Brian Nelson or Something), had a backyard full of those little purple flowers that you can pluck off and suck the honey out of.  I used to think those were the greatest things in the world, and I would go to his backyard and eat flowers with him until they were gone for the summer.  I had no use for Brian after his flowers were all gone.

Fast forward 15 years (I promise I am going somewhere with this rambling):

After 3 years of full time college courses, I had applied for nursing school at a large public state university.  Brandon and I had been dating for almost 2 years, and were planning to get married sometime during summer of the following year.  If everything went according to plan, we would get married right after he graduated college and I would have 2 semesters of nursing school to finish after that.  I was not worried about getting into nursing school; I had a 3.9 GPA, and the year prior, all of their applicants had a 3.5 or above.

A couple of months after submitting my application, I still had not heard from the admissions department.  So I called them.  I was so not prepared for what they would tell me:

"Amanda, I have no record of your application."

Well.  Isn't that special.

The university losing my application wasn't in the plans.  This would only set me back an entire year.  I FREAKED out.  A hysterical breakdown may have ensued while I ranted RANTED an cried uncontrollably at everyone I could get on the phone from the nursing school admissions department.  And my parents weren't thrilled with the prospect of my living at their house for another year, either.

Several hours, several panic attacks and hyperventilation episodes later, I get a phone call out of the blue.  It went something like this:


"Amanda?  This is Dr. John Smith*, President of Large Public State University.  I received a phone call on your behalf from Senator Jane Nelson earlier today, and I would like to apologize for the unfortunate incident involving your application to nursing school.  I understand that your incoming GPA is higher than most of our students, and I would like to tell you personally that you have been accepted to attend nursing school here this fall.  Again, I apologize."

"Um, thank you, Mr. President, sir."

"Please, call me John."

(Okay, he may not have said that very last part, but the rest of it was pretty much how that went down.  *names have been changed because I forgot his real name)

A call from Senator Nelson?? 

What the??

And where is my Dad?  Because he is the only one on the planet who would think to involve the lovely Senator Nelson in this debacle.  (Yes, it was my dad who called her office just a couple of hours before I received my own unreal phone call.)

Fast forward another year:

I am engaged to Brandon, planning a wedding that was just a couple of months away.  I was in nursing school full time, about to get the first B that I had gotten in several years in Psyciatric Nursing, and I was waiting tables part time at Salerno Restaurant, a lovely little italian place that named the unique dishes on the menu after those patrons who loved eating them.

As I am taking orders at a 4-top one night, a young man at the booth catches my eye.  Not in a "oooh, baby, you've caught my eye sort of way", more of a "you look very familiar and I can't figure out how I think I've met you before" sort of way.  Everyone orders, the young man (about my age) appears to be dining with his girlfriend and his parents. 

After I put their orders in, another waitress says to me, "Did she order the Senator Jane Nelson Chicken Mela?  Because it would be weird if she didn't order her own dish."

Ohmygosh.  It was Senator Nelson at the table.  That was the lady.  I had taken her order and almost spilled her water on her, and she had single handedly gotten me into nursing school, thus not postponing my education and wedding and ruining my life.

I tried to remain calm, determined to just let her and her family enjoy their chicken mela and spaghetti and veal parmesan in peace without gushing and thanking her and boring her with a big long story (kind of like this one).  

As I'm refilling their drinks about halfway during their entrees, it clicks.  I look at the guy.  He's looking back at me with the same expression that I have.  And I have figured out where I know him from.

"This may sound really weird, but is your name Brian Nelson?"

"Yes!  I know you from somewhere and can't figure out where!"

"I used to live a street over from you when we were little kids and I lived on Big Sky and you lived on Ruidoso and you had these little purple flowers in your backyard, the kind that you can pick and suck all the honey out of, and I used to come over to your house and we would sit in the backyard and eat the flowers until they were all gone."

I think he scooted further away from me at this point and clutched his girlfriend's hand a little tighter.

And then I looked over and realized that I used to eat flowers out of Senator Nelson's backyard.  The same Senator Nelson who would later be instrumental in my college education.  The same Senator Nelson that was on the menu in the form of a chicken dish.  

The same Senator Nelson whose son had not, in fact, gotten the veal parmesan he had ordered, but the cannelloni instead.

Thank goodness for nursing school, because I was a terrible waitress. 


Izzy, Valerie and Joel said...

Terrible waitress, hysterical story writer. If nursing doesn't work out...