It is good to be back home. As always, the first sight to welcome me back home is the sign for Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive In Charcoal Pit and Twin Freez across from Collins Park, right under the end of the Western Gateway Bridge connecting Schenectady to Scotia across the Mohawk River. I saw my best friend Kathy my first night back and we talked for hours. I miss her so much when I am gone, but when we get back together we are immediately connected as if we had never been apart. While I was away I sent a little book I made for her with pictures I drew and poems I wrote and the lyrics to songs that are meaningful to us. I know it sounds dorky, but it was very personal and nice; I think she liked it. I would love to receive a gift like that from a friend.
I called Vinny to let him know I was home. He told me that he was in a serious relationship. I said that I understood – it had been a long time, and I figured he was seeing someone when I didn’t get any letters back from him. Kathy had actually told me about his girlfriend earlier, I just wanted to hear it directly from him. He did not ask, and I didn’t tell whether or not I had been seeing anyone.
My father is still pretty mad in general. He wants me to do my correspondence school work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. People who go to school full time don’t do that much school work. I did some checking into other options on my own and found out that I don’t have to finish the course work. I can take the GED exam now, get my high school diploma, and start going to the community college this summer. He agreed to that plan. If I was still in high school, I would just be finishing up my Junior year right now. So, I’ll be ahead of, not behind, schedule for my education. I bought a GED study workbook that has sample tests and review materials. I’m used to looking at information on my own and taking tests. I can read; I don’t need anyone to explain it to me.
The community college is just across the bridge in Schenectady. I can ride my bike, take the bus, or even walk to get there. They have a good hotel & restaurant management program. In fact, the college building used to be a hotel, so they have a huge kitchen and banquet facilities. I can do all the basic classes and get my two-year Associate’s degree there, and then transfer to a better culinary school, like the Culinary Institute of America or Cornell or other good college for my Bachelor’s. I want to be a chef, and one day own a restaurant, or even better, own a hotel. Over all the years working on the cruise ships, I have learned a lot about customer service and cuisine and hotel management in general. Some ships are like a fine hotel, with all the very best of everything at your service; others, like the Russian ships, are like the little bare bones budget motels. Obviously, I prefer the finer establishments. My mom thinks I have been spoiled by the good life on the nice ships. She is sure that I am destined to marry a rich guy and have it all. I don’t mind working, and am not looking for anything to be handed to me. I worked pretty hard and a lot of hours relative to most of the other people on the cruise staff, and only got about $25 a week. I even managed to save a little bit of it to go toward college. My parents certainly can’t afford to pay for it.