Monday, May 14, 2007

an epiphany at the swimming pool

I've recieved a substantial amount of money from my family.

I could not believe it. In fact, at first I'd misread one zero...
I did not understand, was this a show of support from their behalf? or is this "this is it!" sign from my parents?? I could not tell where the money came from or why this much amount of money was transfered to my bank account.

Then while I was taking a habitual (hopefully) swim at the school pool (which is a cause of great anger on my behalf but I'll write about that later, maybe), it hit me.

It really HIT me.

All the sudden, I realised for the money had come and the reason why it was that sum.
It was the money from selling my car, my beloved white Subaru WRX (03 model).

This was a true epiphany in many ways.

First, I realised the true relative value of money.
Second, I realised how honest and straight faced my parents (especially my mother) are.
Third, I realised the true end of my naivete .

I've never had real notion of money. It was maybe I was luck enough to never suffer too deeply from lack of it. Maybe it was because I never earned my own money.
I think it is combination of both aspect of my life (up to now). My family was not rich (and still is not rich) but my parents succeeded in not showing the ugliness of money while my sister and I are at early age. We were not spoiled but had everything provided for.
Yes, I could not go to a private college because of money, or more truthfully because I did not know how to treat money as a rational object. To be honest, I might just WANT to believe that I could not attend the college of my liking, Oberlin College in Ohio, due to money.
I had applied to a full scholarship given to a single student of Japanese origin/citizenship and was not selected for it. Come to think of it now, I was too naive to think I could get it solely based on my merit, that there must have been some kind of scheme with Oberlin College and its connection in Japan for that single slot. I'm not being cynical here, I am just aknowledging the fact that things are done like that in the real world.
I remember getting the "rejection" letter, one of those small envelope ones, unlike the big package full of additional paperwork if it is a happy notice. I don't have the hard copy now (I might have torn it up or had it hidden somewhere so hard to find that I cannot find it anymore) so what the letter said is only from a memory. I remember the letter said something like "Unfortunately you didn't get the scholarship. However, we are more than welcome to recieve you AS LONG AS YOU PAY". Well the last part was, I'm sure, worded a little more nicely but this is the gist of the letter I got from Oberlin College.

Looking back, I think this was a pretty honest and nice letter. Since private colleges are not charity organization, there's no logical reason they HAD to give out scholarship, especially to a new incoming student with no significant achievement.
It might be otherwise (since I lost the actual letter) but I have a feeling that I was indeed "accepted" by Oberlin College. I just decided not to go. I figured that since without the scholarship, it is out of our reach (well 40grand private college tuition is out of reach for most of us) and gave up. So did my parents, whom are very smart and logical thinkers (well at least my mother).

I "gave up" without much thinking, which is a pretty reasonable thing to do for a middle class Japanese logic.

Yet, I was wrong!

There were many ways. First, I could always work and support myself. When I visited Oberlin College, during my Junior year in high school, most students worked part time with co-op organization in order to support their student life. Second, I could always get a scholarship once I got in, I just needed to work hard and get good grades and apply for a merit based scholarship. Third, heck! I could've borrowed money needed for my education.

Well, I was naive and did not know those obvious paths. It is partly because I wasn't knowledgable about how American society worked back when I was in high school. It is also because I thought college (undergraduate) was just a way to get a degree and didn't really realise it is going to shape your life many years after college.

It was no one's fault, I was too young and too FOB, I needed more real life experience.

I got sidetracked a little...

Well I've spend 5 years since then. I went to school for 4 and did not do anything (read kinda wasted) 1. Living expense was provided to me by my parents and I treated money like something that comes from no where. I am not a big wasteful person but I never realised how and where money comes from.

Let's move on.

The second thing I learned (or rather made clear to me) by my epiphany at the pool is how truely honest and straight faced my parents are (at least my mother).
My car was truely "my" car. I never earned money for it or paid money to maintain it. I've always thought "my" car was just a car that I use, not something owned. Yet what my parents meant was different. When they said it was "my" car, it is my car. When they sold it, the money they've got, they could've spent it on anything. But they decided (and I believe without much thinking) to give it to me, since it is from"my" car. I never considered myself spoiled but maybe I was, at least I had everything provided for and more. (to be honest, I can't and I will never forgive my dad for not getting me the Civic Si (2000 model) but it is a long story)

And above all I realised, that I am on my own. I'm starting my professional career next Spring. I'm starting to support myself (hopefully if I get "that" job) for the first time in my life.

Goodbye to my youth, hallo to my own, independent life.