I have to pause that story for a moment and provide some context that, albeit lengthy, is worth reading. We're going to travel back to when I was visiting colleges, circa 2005/2006. I grew up in a Disciples of Christ (DOC) church and had a youth leadership position that enabled me to earn a large scholarship at any DOC affiliated college in the country. At the time, I was convinced that I'd win an Oscar and a Tony by the time I was 30 (I actually made a bet with my cousin, Dena, that I would take her out for a lavish steak dinner if I didn't do those things. Folks, that bet is up in June. I could use a movie role and a starring role in a Broadway play right about now). Chapman University was DOC affiliated, had a great theatre program, a dynamite film school, and it was California - my dream - so I was determined to visit and apply.
Even though Chapman was my top choice, I visited other schools closer to home in Texas, Illinois, and Missouri. I loved everywhere I visited, but I saved the best visit for last: Chapman. The summer after my junior year of high school, we went on a family road trip to California. The trip was not entirely for the college visit, but it was on our to-do list.
We had the most fantastic drive out west; we stopped at amazing sights and enjoyed taking our time driving cross-country. The trip turned south, though, the second we hit Southern California freeways. I remember my dad was driving and cars were literally whizzing by us at dangerously high speeds. The whole car was on edge with me, my sister, and my mom all becoming back seat and passenger seat drivers. None of us knew what the heck was going on. We were fish out of water.
We finally reached Hermosa Beach late in the day where we had planned on staying that night. In our family, reservations were for chumps. You leave finding the best hotel to fate. It was always a fun challenge. Dad would drive up, mom would rush in, work her magic negotiating skills, and we'd end up in the perfect hotel room. I never remember being disappointed, except on this trip.
It seemed every decent hotel was full. Everything close to the beach was luxury priced. We were tired, hungry, and worst of all, angry. When we finally landed in a hotel room (which was our penance for so many years of good luck in finding last minute hotel rooms), we were spent. We were fortunate enough to be a few blocks from the beach. We changed and walked down to relax in front of the ocean. I was scheduled to have a campus tour at Chapman the next day.
I remember distinctly what it felt like laying on my towel that late afternoon. It was a warm, gray day. I was torn up inside. We had just come from this concrete chaos and here was this beautiful, vast, majestic thing in front of me. I should have been glad to be there, but I just felt sick. I remember saying to my parents, "I can't live here. It's terrible. I don't want to tour Chapman tomorrow."
My parents listened, but they suggested I visit to "rule it out." Plus, I had "scheduled a meeting with that Dan Oliver, guy, remember?" Mom and I would go to Chapman in the morning, take the tour, then meet my Dad and my sister for dinner, and then we'd all go to Disneyland the next day.
I was so relieved. I knew that I could never in a million years live in this crazy place. Thank God for tomorrow - I would be ruling Chapman out.
Our car ride from the Hermosa area to Orange was much the same as the previous day, but instead of ending with an exhausting hotel hunt like the day before, the second we exited off the 22 onto Glassell, I relaxed.
Orange, California was beautiful. Picturesque. 1950s, even. Be still my romantic heart - the aesthetic of Orange was so me.
My tour guide was hilarious. He was down-to-earth, fun, and from Colorado! I felt so at home. I thought to myself, "if everybody at Chapman is like this guy, sign me up." I went from wanting to rule it out to unpacking-a-bag-wanting-to-stay-forever obsessed with Chapman.
Look, I know my tour guide convinced lots of impressionable young minds to apply and attend the university, but this was different. I didn't know it at the time, but my tour guide, David, just happened to be one of my future husband's best friends.
To be continued...