Hey there. Remember me? I'm that kid who had a report due on space. You probably don't recognize me because it was a long time ago. I used to wear my hair totally different. It was in this sort of Prince Valiant-style pageboy bowl cut. Hey, it was the mid-'80s, what can I say? Sometimes, I look at old pictures of me, with that hair, and I think to myself, "You sure have come a long way since the days when you had that report due on space."
You sure you don't remember me? That kid? Who had a report due? On space?
For a couple years afterwards, I'd get recognized pretty often. People would come up to me and be like, "You look so familiar. Where do I know you from?" And then I'd say, "Encyclopedia Britannica. I'm that kid who had a report due on space," and they'd slap their foreheads and be all like, "I knew I recognized you from somewhere! How'd that report turn out, anyway? Those encyclopedias help?" I'd usually just play it kind of coy, giving 'em the old thumbs up and saying, "Scored an A." Sometimes, they'd even buy me a drink, but that doesn't happen much anymore. After all, that was 15 or 20 years ago now that I had that report due on space.
Not that I'm hung up on it. I've moved on since then. I don't want you to get the wrong idea and think I'm living in the past.
I guess after that whole report thing, a lot of people, myself included, figured I'd end up going into some line of work having to do with aeronautics or astrophysics or something that was at least somehow associated with space. But that's not what happened.
Oh, sure, I went to college. As a matter of fact, I included that report I had due on space in my application. So I guess those encyclopedias paid off in that respect. To be honest, though, I wasn't all that into school. I spent most of my college years partying. Oh, man, I remember this one kegger, me and my buddies had been doing Jell-O shots all night. And, well, to make a long story short, this totally hot girl comes up—she'd been checking me out all night—and she finally approaches me and is all like, "Do I know you? Aren't you that kid who had a report due on space?" I was sure I was going home with her, but she ended up passing out.
Sorry to go off on that tangent there. Long story short, I ended up dropping out of college after three semesters. It was too bad, because I had those encyclopedias, and they would've been a really good resource for reports on Napoleon or mitosis or the migratory patterns of birds or whatever. But, like I said, college just wasn't for me.
I ended up going to Alaska for a few years, to try to get my head together. I hardly brought anything with me, but for some reason, I packed those damn encyclopedias. They came in pretty handy during those long months working at the cannery. After a hard shift, when I just wanted to unwind and read something to cope with the horrible boredom and isolation, I'd flip open the encyclopedia. In the cold arctic night, it was a real comfort to read those things and be reminded of a time when life was simpler and seemed so full of promise—back when I was a fresh-faced young kid who had that report due on space.
After that, I kind of bummed around for a while, sort of directionless. I finally ended up in Boulder, working at this snowboard shop. By that point, hardly anybody remembered that I was that kid who had a report due on space. In fact, when I met my wife Robyn—or I should say ex-wife Robyn—she didn't even know about the report. To her, I was just that guy who worked at the snowboard shop with her brother Kurt. And I didn't mind. That whole report-due-on-space thing seemed long ago, and when we moved in together, I decided to close that whole chapter in my life by getting rid of the encyclopedias.
I know, I know. Maybe I should've kept them for sentimental value, but it was time to move on. I was looking forward to starting a new life with Robyn and the baby, and the last thing I needed was to remain mired in the past, thinking about that report I once had due on space.
It's too bad about Robyn. We gave it a go for a good five years or so, but it didn't work out. She ended up heading down to Arizona where her sisters live, and we're still friends—I mean, we keep in touch, but I don't know. Just wasn't meant to be, I suppose. She wanted to study to be a registered nurse. I offered to go find the guy in my building who I gave the encyclopedias to and see if I could get them back for her. You know, in case she ever had a report due on stethoscopes or taking people's blood pressure or something, but she said the class provided a textbook that had everything she needed. I miss her sometimes. But, hey, that's life, right?
Anyhow, I left Boulder shortly after that. The apartment was just too lonely, and since I didn't have the encyclopedias or the wife, I didn't need that much room anymore.
Sure is funny how life works out. I mean, if you'd asked me 15 or 20 years ago, back when I had that report due on space, what I was going to end up doing with my life, I never thought I'd wake up in my early 30s and find myself managing a U-Store-It facility in Tallahassee. But I can't complain. I've lived a pretty interesting life, even if it wasn't always what I expected. Besides, I'll always have my memories—and that report on space.