I'm sitting in Salentos - the Rice University coffee shop/bar that Brandon and I spent way too much time in this past semester. I am most likely sitting next to the next Bill Gates or Michael Dell, and the best part is, they assume that I am a student here. I have always wondered what it would be like to be as intelligent as most of these students and professors are. I remember the first time that I ever came up here to study with Brandon, and I felt completely inadequate. I also had the pre-conceived notion that anyone who went to Rice probably had no idea what a social life was....boy was I wrong.
There are literally hundreds of kids sitting outside drinking coffee or a glass of wine (yes, Rice sells alcohol on campus - because their students are responsible enough to handle it) and talking about their weekends. There are the few that are completely immersed in what they are doing, and based on their lack of expression I can only assume that they probably fit my assumption, but otherwise these "geniuses" are just as normal as I am. I am completely embracing the fact that they assume I go to school here, and pretending for a day that I ever had any shot in the world of going to Rice.
I am sure you are wondering...what am I doing here? Brandon is being honored with an award from Baker College tonight - something to the affect of "excellence in the face of adversity", and we are here to accept the award for him. I decided to come down early because in all honesty I wasn't really sure how I would handle being back on campus. There are so many memories - some fun, some just hours and hours of studying, some that I will always cherish.
It is almost as if I had never left. I drove to the back parking lot, only to realize that I wasn't in Brandon's car, and didn't have a student parking permit. Walked the exactly same path to the coffee shop, sat in the same seats, ordered the same drink...all as if he were still here. There is an unusual comfort that comes with the familiarity of everything - as if he is still here. It is next to impossible not to let the feelings of frustration and anger creep in as I walk past the library - remembering the countless number of times I fell asleep on his shoulder while he worked away at physics - waking up every 30 minutes to pester him about going to do something fun (Ben & Jerry's always seemed to do the trick). He was a dedicated student, and loved learning more than anyone I have ever met. It was not to my surprise at all when I received his transcript saying that he finished the semester with a 4.1 GPA. Its a really good thing he never knew what my GPA was in college. I find myself laughing at the fact that someone so smart, and so immersed in education picked someone who was more interested in jumping in the fountains on campus than understanding how they work. It is hard to be here. There is no getting around that, and I don't expect for it to get easy anytime soon. Thirteen weeks ago I was telling him how excited I was to see him graduate - no doubt with honors - and today I face the reality that I will never celebrate that milestone with him.
At the same time I feel completely unworthy to be part of something so special. Why he picked me...I have no idea, but he did, and that is such an honor. I am so proud of him and so proud of the mark he left, not only on me and everyone he met, but on this University.