I went to college at Virginia Tech, about a three-hour drive from my hometown of Knoxville. As is true for most people, the transition from high school to college was exciting and scary all at once.
At the end of my very first semester, the very last exam I had to take was Introduction to Computer Science. I fully expected it to be a cakewalk (it was), but exams are always a stressful time. After the exam was over, I was going to head back home to my parents’ house.
And it was snowing.
I could not sleep the night before. The exam was at 8am, and despite having set an alarm I was terrified of missing it. I spent the time packing up all my stuff, but that didn’t take too long (I was a poor college student and this was a small dorm room, after all).
I then, at about 3am, walked the mile or so to the student parking lot and drove my car over to the Burger King across the street from my dorm. I went in (it was open all night) and asked the manager if I could park in their lot until about 9am. She was fine with it, so I loaded my stuff into the car and locked it up.
After waiting the hours until morning — probably drifting off now and then but never fully getting to sleep — I walked to the building where the exam was held. I took the exam (the easy part of the story), then walked back to my dorm. It felt weird to just be…leaving. But leave I did.
Snow was falling steadily, and it was quite cold. But I put the windows down to keep me awake on my drive. After leaving Blacksburg I didn’t know any of the radio stations, so I just used the seek function until I found some station that was playing music (options were country and gospel; I chose country because the gospel music was more likely to put me to sleep). I assume most of my fellow drivers were concentrating on the road, but perhaps one or two of them took note of the small grey family sedan barrelling down I-81 with its windows down in the snow blasting country music.
After arriving home, I went nearly straight to bed. Having fallen asleep that afternoon, I’m pretty sure I didn’t wake up again until about lunchtime the next day.
The rest of my trips back home were much less dramatic, thankfully, but that one will always stand out.