It's that time of year again when hundreds of college students flock to the sandy beaches of Florida, Mexico, and beyond seeking an escape from reality. I always wondered what spring break would be like. Once I went to visit my grandparents for spring break but it is a far cry from the spring break headlines of today. I decided since I really never experienced the full effect of spring break, and I am not sure I really want to, that I had time to reflect on what it means to me. For me, it is taking a look back at my college experience. You have already heard about my secret and the yogurt, the nail polish painting, and walking into the men's room but here are some fond memories of college. I am lucky to have spent the first half of my education in a college environment free of the COVID restrictions which I experienced during the second half. It is these experiences that I think put all together represent what spring break is, to get a reprieve from the hectic rigors of college studies.
Some of my spring breaks were visiting my grandparents in Florida. I really never thought of it then but it was a getaway from the hectic classwork and never-ending group projects. Looking back I am thankful to of had a place to go to spend time with people who love me, hanging out doing the things I love. Swimming, shopping, and making memories. It was a time that I also got to have a little fun dancing the night away with Dad in the Square. After all isn’t that what spring break is all about, hearing live music, and dancing the night away?
Check out Dad's dance moves at the Square
Watch out for the controls
As many of you know I use a wheelchair. It has many features for my comfort. It can tilt, recline, raise and lower my feet not to mention elevate me to eye level. The controls for this are located just below my joystick. This is for easy access, but sometimes they are accidentally engaged sending me into directions unknown. Most of the time is running over the toes of the people I am with.
One such occasion was in my Western Civ class with one of my favorite teachers. I had already taken a few of her classes and we had become very friendly. We went to the Brooklyn Museum together and shared a love of coffee.
Alert titling chair
After spring break we greeted each other with a hug, well before COVID would make this a no-no. After walking into class and settling into my seat, Lisa was busy getting my notebook and recording pen ready for class. The professor came over to me and leaned in for a hug, while we chatted about our breaks Unbeknownst to her she had rested her hand on the control box of my chair. Slowly I began to tilt, I tried to get Lisa’s attention, but she looked over not noticing the chair was tilting. The professor was oblivious too. Soon I was almost laying down looking like I was ready to take a nap. Out of the corner of her eye, Lisa caught a glimpse of me slowly tilting back in my chair. She jumped up in alarm and let out a scream that could curl your hair. This startled the professor who released her hug and the controls leaving me looking at the ceiling. I was seconds away from colliding my headrest with the table behind me. The commotion sent papers flying in every direction and I just lay there laughing.
TicTacs the mint that you get a bang out of life. They come in all kinds of flavors but I prefer the apple-flavored ones, I have never been a mint person. TicTacs are great. They come in a handy container that is made for sharing. You can shake out one or several depending on your mood. I always had TicTacs in class because they somehow helped me focus. They became an obsession because they were so tasty, they were sweet, tangy, and chewy goodness all rolled up into one. Not to mention only 1 ½ calories per TiicTac. I wouldn’t just eat one at a time, I would eat quite a few at a time. I found that the more boring the class the more TicTacs I would eat. As with any small candy, most of them wouldn’t make it to my mouth and end up on the floor or stuck in my wheelchair only to be released at a later time.
The sound of Tic Tacs
As you can imagine, I am sitting in class, listening to a professor drone on about who knows what, popping TicTacs in my mouth to stay awake. Several of them would miss their mark and as luck would have it, tinkle to the floor when the professor had taken a break from talking. All you would hear is TicTacs ping-ponging off my chair to the cold linoleum floor. If that wasn’t bad enough you could always follow the trail of TicTaks like Hansel left the trail of breadcrumbs for Gretel. I always wondered what the janitors thought when they not only found them on the floor of the classrooms I was in but also all around campus as they fell off my chair.
Many of my discussions with my assistant involved candies, treats, and traditions from England. Lisa is from England and I could never get enough of her accent or stories of growing up in a different country. In my world, if she said it was delicious or so good, it was. She had shared many treats with me most of which were great but there is one expectation, Ricola. I know you all just imagined that man blowing the horn on a Swiss Mountaintop and another one in a singsong voice saying Riiiicoolaaa. Lisa ate them like they were hard candies. Never in million years would I have guessed before she popped one in my mouth that they were cough drops and tasted so gross. Needless to say, as soon as that sucker hit my mouth, I gagged and spit it out. Begging for water. Anything to get that awful taste out of my mouth. I learned a valuable lesson that day. Just because someone else likes something does not mean I will.
Always wanting to experience college life I attended many events they offered from Lau’s, cultural events, and drag shows to health and science fairs. I even joined a club, actually just to boost my grade, the Sustainability club, I thought this would be interesting. I could finally answer the age-old question of "Where do recycled products go?" In my house, Mom puts everything that is recyclable in the recycle container and Dad feels it's a waste of time and that it all goes to the dump. Unfortunately, the club was never able to settle the debate and they still argue about that. The Lau was lots of fun. Not many students attended so we had the undivided attention of all the dancers. They tried to teach me, the young woman in the wheelchair how to hula!
Hawaiian Lau conga line
Henna and Chinese
Another cultural event was getting henna art on my hand and learning how to write our names in Chinese. A skill I don’t think I will ever need. Henna art is hard, you have to hold still. Many of you know that is an impossible task for me. I startle at loud noises and talk with my body. I managed to hold still long enough for the woman to finish only to have it messed up seconds later when my hand hit my joystick. But at least I tried and challenged myself to hold still.
Henna being applied Henna Art Our names in Chinese
I was determined to fit in, so at a health fair, I spotted a fellow classmate that I had come to know. She and her fellow members of the LGBTQ club were sitting in a circle and having a conversation. I decided to join their group and drop in on their conversation. I got an earful. They were discussing things that had to do with lube and sex with each other. It was too much for me to handle. I announced to them I had to go to the bathroom. This confused Lisa who had just come back to the group after looking at several tables. After we were out of earshot and close to the bathroom I told her I really didn’t have to go I just needed an excuse to get away from what they were talking about. I was struggling to tell her what had just happened. I have trouble pronouncing my “L’s”, it came out like “woob”. She had trouble trying to figure out what I was talking about and using every letter of the alphabet but L to figure it out. We both ended up laughing hysterically and avoided any future health fairs. Gotta go to the color run!
On another occasion, I joined the student union. As is required by all members you must support a certain amount of events to remain a member. The semester was quickly ending and I needed to attend one more event. I’m not sure whose idea it was to host a Drag show but the majority of the student union felt it would be a great way to involve the student body. Yes, I went to a Drag Show and it was awesome. They were everything I expected. They were flamboyant, entertaining, and talented.
All in all, I think I got to experience drips and drabs of what it is like to be a college student on spring break even though I was home the whole time. I also think my overall experience is a lot like spring break, exposing yourself to not only the familiar but also challenging yourself to the unfamiliar. You don’t have to go on an alcohol-infused spring break holiday to have the feeling of getting away, a spring break. All you need to do is create memories that you won’t regret and your parents won’t be embarrassed by either. Sorry Dad, but everyone has already seen you dance! So whatever you do for spring break, in the famous words of our newest family member to marry into the family, TJ,” Have safe and be fun”!
Thank you for reading until the end!
This is the view from my wheelchair, where miracles can make a difference. Always Strive for the Impossible. Come back next week to find out whose birthday it is and hear more about my experiences and The View From My Wheelchair.