transitions by jmforceton

2 May

His life, his thought process, had been changing, even so this was going to be the most dramatic transition of his life.

It was 9:30 Friday night, drizzling. Mike was sitting in the dark in the back seat of a fifteen-year-old Honda; Joey Pisanski, his friend since the 2nd grade, was in the driver’s seat. They were waiting for the girls to come back out from the CVS.

Mike never thought, never considered it possible, but there it was on his iPhone. He wasn’t sure what to do next.  Joey and the girls would not understand, while he knew his future had just changed; he was scared, excited, and proud, all at once, and he was not turning back. He had to tell somebody.

Joey was sending a text message. Mike put his arms over the back of the front seat, and looking at the iPhone screen, said casually, ”I can’t believe this.”

“What, what are you looking at?”

“I’ve been accepted at MIT.”

“M I what, what are you talking about?”

“MIT, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”

“College right, where’s that?”


“Boston! I was there once. It sucks.”

He sat back and looked out the window thinking, Monday I’ll tell Mr. Robinson.  Mr. Robinson was his physics teacher and a friend. This was going to be a big deal for some of his friends at school. At school that’s all they were talking about as each acceptance notification came in; just about everybody was going somewhere in the fall.

In order to have balance there must be transitions. In order to grow there must be transitions. His life had a new balance as the result of the last three years at the science magnet school his mother had enrolled him in. He still didn’t study as hard as some of the others, but he did pay attention in classes, and he did study at home quite a bit, something he never did before coming to the new school.

She worked ten miles out of Kansas City at a Wal-Mart on the bus line. He knew she was going to cry when he told her. This had been her dream for the last three years; ever since she forced him to stay in that school, maybe before.

Now the largest transition of his life was coming, freshman year at MIT and a full scholarship.

It happened gradually that first year at the new magnet school. It was different there. They took two math and two science courses each semester. He had a math teacher who liked him, and even more important, showed him a new way to appreciate knowledge. He had come to realize he was smart and he could see the way to find the answers. Yeah, there was the fight three weeks after he started there, he almost got expelled, but the principal decided to take a chance on him. After the first half of the year he was ahead of the math class, just because it was easy, in fact, yeah, he enjoyed it. It was OK to be smart in this school, no big deal. He could look at a problem and he knew he could find the answer. He knew what a Boson particle was, knew the difference between Newtonian and relativistic physics, and had joined the robotics team. His old friends at home had no idea what he was doing. None of them took school seriously and he never told them about his improving grades. They would have ridiculed him just as he would have done in the past, and he understood that. There was a part of him that would always love the rough, street tough swagger, the attitude, the crude, sometimes colorful put down, but there was a new fresh side of him now that saw much more in life.

His grandfather had paid for his flight to Boston, and during the campus tour last fall at MIT he had heard a professor talk. He was a totally straight geek for sure, but some of the things he said were amazing. The guy spoke the truth, and he talked about the conversations the students would have with each other and with guys like Newton, Leibnitz, Einstein, and Feynman. He also remembered the sailboats on the river; he would join the sailing club.

He was still looking out the window when the girls got back in the car. Sue, his date, was pointing and saying, “Do you see what she’s wearing? That is so lame. Roll down your window.”

“Look, let’s just go to the movie, OK.” They were on their way to see the Imax 3D version of Avatar.

“What’s the matter? I’m just having some fun.”

“I know her, OK; she just moved here from Mumbai. She sits next to me in physics. She’s a nice person and she’s very smart.”

“Oooo, he likes her.”

As calmly as he can, Mike says, “Just leave her alone; we’ll be late for the movie.”

2 Responses to “transitions by jmforceton”

  1. ingridfnl May 2, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    I wonder if he’ll keep any of his “old world” at MIT? Nice choice.

  2. jmforceton May 4, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    My guess is it will always be there. Worked with a guy, one of the brightest I ever knew, who was just as comfortable in a boardroom presenting to the CEO as he was with his leathers on, and his Harley, at a biker bar. His character is destined for a story.

    Sidenote: The two poems from last week, Impulse Control and Waiting Game, were both taken by Abandoned Towers Magazine and will be on the website this week.

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