September 2010, after the miscarriage, I had changed over to a job at Waffle House. I didn’t mind it. It kept me busy enough to not think about what all was going on. I had gotten tired enough of my cousin’s crap that I moved out & got another place from the same landlord for myself. It cost a little more because it was more restored, but it was still crap. But I enjoyed the freedom, regardless of its side effects.
Back to the peaceful grind, I was more often than not headed out of the house when I was not at work. I loved areas with lots of people, fresh air, the option of temperature control, food and facilities. Perhaps I had found myself stranded too often recently, and found security in certain surroundings. Regardless, it was a peaceful escape from my recent chaotic norm.
My primary preference was Borders Bookstore at Pier Park (which, like the Barnes & Nobel in the Mall, is now a clothing store *sniff*)
I would often visit the Science and Physics sections, with a nice French Vanilla Coffee (My mother got me addicted, she herself preferred it as a Cappuccino, however) Curt preferred a hyped up, multi-espresso shot of the nastiest, highest-caffeinated cup of mud he could think up, and a crappy Science Fiction Novel Series. He claimed to be a speed reader with a 165 IQ and sought to mention it frequently (hint: if you have to tell people, or brag about it, it’s not true, and we won’t believe you)
I would also often bring with me my laptop. I thoroughly enjoyed electronics and my mother can attest to my taking them apart constantly as a child….mostly house phones (even the clear ones) and not always being able to put them back together. All the computers I had ever had were built by me from scrap parts. I built my first one as a teenager, with little to no knowledge of how they worked. I based it on the machines and devices I had taken apart before. By 15, I was learning coding and hacking, and my mother had banned me from using her computer after receiving a letter from the CIA inviting me to their high school intern program.
Anyway, flash forward, It’s towards the end of the year in 2010 and I’m at Borders in Pier Park, and my laptop was somewhat precious to me because I was actually able to afford it new – and Curt frikkin spilled coffee on it.
I had disassembled, repaired, and reassembled the entire laptop on a coffee shop dining table, fighting the urge to smack Curt over the head with it for breaking it in the first place, and all I needed to do was test the computer’s repair. Curt was no help at all, and I moved to a different table by a foundation beam, trying to find an outlet and get away from Curt. I was trying to focus. I had not found an outlet, and was getting ready to pack up my things when I heard a man’s voice.
“You can sit here and use this outlet if you want.” He said, pointing to the beam behind him, “I see what you’re trying to do.”
I awkwardly thanked him and accepted his invitation. My laptop tested well, seemed to have no issues, and Curt was busy reading his book across the room by the window. Always cautious around new people, I struck up casual conversation with the man, and tried to gather as much information as possible about him without him noticing before talking about myself. I had been through a bit too much lately to be so careless anymore.
He told me that he was an adjunct professor at the local college for the Technology Division, and he was attending online college simultaneously for an M.S. degree – or that he had recently attended, I don’t recall exactly at this point. It was strange to me that he claimed to teach in the Technology division, because I had just recently changed my major again to Computer Engineering. (I started with English, then Business Administration and Management, then Criminology, and had only attended school in 2008 & 2009 at that point. I had taken a break after having left Gypsy so I could focus on getting my kids back)
I mentioned my recent change, and he encouraged it greatly, inviting me into what he claimed to be a pretty big thing he had planned for the Technology Division. Even then, he had his sights set high, and his voice was very calm, yet completely in control. You could easily tell that this man was dedicated and organized – not to be messed with. He kept a coffee – large – some file folders, a laptop bag. He was a relatively attractive man. He had a very piercing glance with a mix of brown/green eyes that seemed to see right through you. He wore a large class ring, indicating that he was very proud of his achievements. He cared about his appearance, his hair was cut short and proper and his face clean-shaven, and he dressed respectfully, suggesting to me that he needed a particular opinion of himself among others. That’s good, I thought, it means he doesn’t think that he is perfect, and won’t put others down. Something about him suggested to me that he, too, was enlisted at one point. He sat facing the window, near a doorway, with a foundation beam at his back (to prevent people from sneaking up on him, I thought), and the coffee shop to his left. He was in the center of the coffee shop area, but not the center of the store itself; far enough from every counter to not be noticed. When I inquired about his demeanor, he laughed and admitted to me that he was a military officer a long time ago. He cut the conversation short, claiming that he had to study some things from his file folders, and kindly gave me his contact information should I decide to return to school. When he stood, he was almost a whole head taller than myself. Tall, dark hair, dark eyes, smooth voice. More of the pattern – NO, nope, not this time. Not again. I pushed the thought away, and snuck a glance at his hands from the corner of my eye, pretending to look at my laptop. A ring. Good, I thought. Don’t screw up
But with just a few minutes of talking to this Professor, and I realized that I saw everything in a completely different way. I saw opportunities and choices and chances that I could take now that I hadn’t realized before. I saw and thought of everything in a new way, and my plans for my life took a massive turn. I believe influences such as these would change my life for the better, regardless of whether or not they intended it – or even noticed. It was then that I decided I needed to change the people in my life.
One conversation with the right person completely stole my mind from the constraints given by others having made my decisions for me in the past. One conversation put me in complete control over my own life.
One single conversation, and I was free.
…But that didn’t exactly stop me from screwing up.