It was cold.
There was no one on campus . I was practically hyperventilating to try and breathe as I came around the backside of the United Technologies Hall.
The weather was below freezing.
I was in a suit.
There, walking just outside the building, was my uncle, Professor Brett.
There was no, “Hey kiddo!” like he always used to say.
We did hug though, and he asked me how I was doing.
We started walking back to my dorm with no one in sight, only snow, wind, and silence. It was freezing and then I saw in the parking lot his car. I mentioned to him that my dorm would be a lot longer of a walk and we should drive there, so we did.
He had to sit in my dorm and wait for me to pack a backpack for me to take home. It was odd, seeing my Uncle Brett in a suit.
We left to go get supper and our conversations consisted of some family stuff, but mostly how our professions are going.
His is going pretty smoothly, although I am sure he had to go through bumpy patches to get to where he is.
My profession, I let him know, is not going to smoothly.
Eventually this sentence came, which I have engraved into my memory:
“You and I are a lot alike you know.”
I looked at my uncle for him to elaborate; my face said ‘How so?’
“Yeah, well.. Both of us have come from the same city. Both our parents have not gone on to receive the education that we are receiving. We both have to do this college thing on our own with no older siblings that went to college before us, and no other family members for that matter that are available to give us any advice You know what, never get discouraged because half the people I have gone to school with had parents in the field that they were entering so they already knew everything they had to do to get ahead. You and I… We are the first generation in this family to go on and receive this level of education. …I feel that there are not a lot of bad decisions that you could make during college. The only bad decision you really need to worry about is doing drugs. Don’t do drugs… That was actually part of my research because I had done a paper on addiction and…”
And so we got onto having an actual scientific discussion of addiction. He had given a lecture that day on the differences between the male and the female brain. I wish I could have attended it.
There’s a lot that he knows that I wish I knew. I think everybody wishes they knew what he knew. I think he might be tired of knowing what he knows.
The differences between the male and the female brain… He knows something, especially if he is trying to push me towards engineering. Clearly he thinks that I am capable.
I am holding onto the hope that he is right, and that I am, indeed, capable of being successful in my field. I am holding onto the hope that he knows some scientific fact that I could do well because he is a professor of neuroscience and he knows so much.
When we had finished our meal, he grabbed me a balloon on the way out.
He’s still Uncle Brett, just less hungry now.