After that first whirlwind day of new beginnings and first time experiences, I woke up to yet another day full of firsts. It would my first day finding my way around a college campus. My first day being 700 miles from home. My first day trying to get ready in the morning with a room-mate. Being an only child, I had never had to share a space, a mirror, an outlet, a bathroom or anything else for that matter. But the scariest “first” for me was the fact that I was all on my own.

As a sheltered, naive, 19-year-old southern girl, I never had to make decisions all on my own. I didn’t know how to do much of anything. I wasn’t good with money. I was horrible with directions and getting around, I knew nothing about how to navigate enrollment, how to pick out classes or purchase books, and I was having a very difficult time grasping the concept of “class hours”. All of these things were adding to my anxiety…and to the “baggage” I managed to bring with me from my past.

My years of academic struggles in high school had left me feeling stupid, inadequate, embarrassed and ashamed. And now, here I was, thrown into a sea of college students that seemingly knew everything…and I knew nothing, but even though my past was trying to invade my future I had a God-given confidence that I would succeed! That is what He does you know…He takes nothing…turns it into something and then uses it for a grand purpose.

Before I ventured out of my dorm room to face the duties of the day, I did what any good southern girl would do…I picked out my outfit! As far back as I can remember, shopping for, buying and wearing the latest fashion had been my passion. With this all important first day of college ahead of me, what I wore was ABSOLUTLY critical and would set the mood for the rest of the day and could possible make an impression to last the rest of the year! Once every hair on my head was in place, and my make up was perfectly applied, and every article of clothing matched the other, and my fingernail polish, toenail polish and all accessories matched my outfit…I was out the door and ready to conquer the world.

Early that morning we met up with another Alabama girl who was from the same town as Ginger and I. Her name was Kay Vendrick. She was beautiful, poised and sweet as pie. She was a little older than Ginger and I and already had a year or two under her belt at Central Bible College. During our conversation she invited us to eat lunch with her and some of her friends. “Meet me in the cafeteria, under the clock at 11:30”, she said. “under the clock?” we asked. “Yes, there’s a clock hanging on the wall”, she said, “and a large round table right under it…meet me there, that’s were I usually meet my friends.” We agreed, hugged necks and went on with the rest of our morning.

By 11:30 I had conquered the imaginary college monster that I feared would eat me alive. I had navigated registration and found my classes. Accomplishing these two tasks, and surviving them, was a huge boost to my wounded ego. But now it was time for some fun and to meet Ginger and Kay under the clock!

As I walked toward the cafeteria, I fell more and more in love with the beautiful campus. I had never really experienced fall like this before. The warm Alabama winters that I had grown accustomed to hadn’t offered such brilliant fall colors. Cool mornings, beautifully colored trees and falling leaves, set the perfect backdrop for this tiny private school.

I walked through the doubled glass doors and turned to my left, just as Kay had instructed. I scanned the room for the all important clock. There it was, and there was Kay sitting at the table just as I had hoped. We were the first two to arrive, so we decided to wait and chit-chat until Ginger and the others could join us. I couldn’t wait to meet some new people. While I may not have excelled in the academic side of life…I was a genius in the social side of life. I never met a stranger, loved to laugh and have fun and could carry on a conversation with anyone. I was all too eager to make as many new friends as I could.

While Kay and I were talking at the table, a young man walked up, flashed a half-smile at Kay and gave her a slight hug. ” Hey! It’s good to see you”, he said, “how was your summer?” Kay responded with a smile as they began to catch up on each others summer. This was the first close encounter I had with someone of the opposite sex since coming on campus, except for the gentlemen that helped us to our room the day before. I sat awkwardly and watched them talk, waiting for him to introduce himself and ask my name. He was tall, kind of cute with jet black hair. He seemed nice enough but he had a cynicism and a seriousness about him that I didn’t particularly like. He didn’t laugh or seem to be the fun type. After a minute or so of talking, he said good-bye to Kay and left. By the time their conversation was over I had quickly sized him up as rude, arrogant and he clearly had not been taught how to greet a lady. He never introduced himself, said hello or even glanced my way. Clearly he was no southern gentleman and clearly he was not for me. Out of curiosity I asked, “who was that?” “oh, just a guy I met last year”, she said, “his name is Devin.” I was sure hoping the rest of the male population on this campus was better than him!

In no time, Ginger came into the cafeteria like a fresh breeze. We briefly asked about each others morning and compared battle stories. We soon realized we were none the worse for wear and made our way to the lunch line. This would be the first of many meals here, more sitting under the clock and more chances to meet new people…hopefully they would be nicer than that last guy. To be continued…