I wait, knuckles steepled in mockery of the impending defeat that I might, just might, have to face today.
It's a Monday, and my friend Chris and I have been up all night. We've juggled facts, formulated our arguments, and rehearsed our grievances. What we want is success, and we know that it won't come easy.
I walk outside, and realize that the birds are chirping. This will be my first all-nighter of my college career, and my green tinged mind, green from inexperience as well as envy of those who have so many more opportunities than I, wonders if this will be a first in a series of all-nighters. I taste the copper taste of fear, but I relish it, and for once in my lifetime, my fear drives me. I greet a few early risers good morning, and I salute the stragglers of yet another late night. Then, taking in and savoring the first rays of dawn, I go back to command central.
Pizza boxes litter the room. Coalated, compiled, and coagulated with sweat, staples, and a sense that we must succeed, we collectively heave a sigh of relief. Our ambush of a handout is DONE, finally!
"Twelve pages, eh? You think they'll expect this?" I muse.
"Doubt it," Chris admonishes as he munches on the last of the cold pizza.
I take a sip from the dregs of my last cup of coffee, and continue to wonder. How long have I been here? Yes, three months. And I want to be a chemical engineer. A chemical freakin' engineer. What am I thinking? What if we can't convince these people that we need equal access to materials, instructors, equipment, and God help us, services?
"So do you want me to make the copies, or do you think ..."
"I'll make them. What time's the meeting?" I ask.
"One P.M. Do you realize what this means? Do you realize that if we fail, it could be ... bad ... for like ... a lot of people?" I envision Chris's face grimacing as he states the obvious. We could fail! But we won't, I have to keep telling myself we won't. It's the only way. Failing is not an option.
I don't sleep. I'm going over all of the facts, the arguments, the grievances. I'm restapling, recoalating, rearranging. All we're supposed to do is meet with Campus Access--what a name for such a defunct and inept organization--and we'll try to regulate like no one's regulated before. We'll have notes. We'll have facts. We'll have it all arranged.
I then realize how terrified I am. I realize that I've been terrified throughout my life, not by the usual fears--drowning, fear of a live burial, burning alive--but I'm terrified now because I may not succeed.
One o'clock crawls ever nearer. I make the copies, and their "weight" grows heavier in my hands as the anticipation of the coming meeting mounts. This very meeting could make or break my career, my life; it could staunch other people's careers, other people's goals, dreams, aspirations. My mind is a kaleidoscope of thoughts--what happens if I ... but I always said I could do it ... I'm the first one to try this ... if only we had ... What happens if we ... no we won't fail, failure is NOT an option. No ... freakin ... way!!!
Chris and I meet in the anteroom of the conference area that we will be having this meeting.
"All set?" he asks.
"Yeah, all we have to do is take control here. Show 'em what we're really made of. You scared?"
"Nope, are you?"
"Terrified," I say with trepidation.
They start to file in, and the copper taste in my mouth, long since retreated, reappears like an unhappy memory, but I push it aside. I know it wil be all right. I know that what Chris and I are doing is for everyone. Yeah, it'll help us, but it's so much more than helping ourselves now. Most of all, I know that my primal urge to overcome, to overdo, and to overarch myself to a breaking point is the only reason why I am here today. The fear I feel now is primal, and it's what keeps me succeeding.
As all of the bigwigs--the Chancellor's office people, mine and Chris's department officials, various asundry Campus Access staff, and lastly and most typically, the Campus Access Director--shuffle into their places, tension mounts and relaxes arterially. Everyone's got a handout, even the director, and we know we're ready now. There's no turning back.
"Do any of you guys have a pen," asks a plaintive voice from the back of the room? As we hand a pen to the director of Campus Access, someone who is supposed to be in charge of our destinies as disabled students and know everything about disabilities, we know that we've won. You just have to concede defeat when you have to ask your two prepared blind oponents for a pen and they give you one.
We lick our collective chops and start the meeting. This won't be the first nor the last time I will be terrified of defeat, but this will be the defining moment that I realize that the reason for my success is due solely to my fear of failure and my lavish desire for a fair yet well-fought challenge
Written for therealljidol. I hope you enjoy this titilating terrifying tale. Pen anyone???