Uni Kid (at heart)
Some folks get their thrills buying a new car, or taking a trip. Some find their bliss in simple things like the scent of a rose or laughter of a child. I miss my secret thrill.
Every day thousands of people teem through the turnstiles at Melbourne Central Station, up the escalators and out into the blue sky or leaden deluge, dependant on which ten minutes in the hour Melbourne’s weather alternately puts on, and onto Swanston Street.
Being a writer, I often study people’s faces, surreptitiously, of course, and wonder what they are thinking. Where do they come from? And where do they go to? Who waits for them at home? And how did he get that scar on the bridge of his nose? Car accident? Angry wife? Superman flight off the garage roof as a child?
A couple of times a week for the past 18-months, I’ve been one of the throng emerging from the subway into the world aboveground. And on every single one of those days, walking along Swanston Street, I look up to the skyline and the buildings, the signage of RMIT, and cannot contain my smile. A fizzing bubble of excitement races up my spine and the same words wing through my mind. “I love being a uni kid.” (Yes, I’m a little old to say such a thing – it’s a throwback to my daughter’s uni days when she spoke of the media kids, the tv and radio kids in her course. What can I say – it stuck.)
I can’t help it. Eighteen-months on, I still feel thrilled and privileged and honoured to walk the hallowed halls of RMIT and to be completing a Masters degree. I never went to uni straight from school, but I’ve always been a big believer in life-long learning and undertaken many courses over the years from dressmaking to Chinese cooking to life writing to Mandarin 101. My first taste of tertiary ed came in the late nineties when I decided that if I was going to free the writer I knew fluttering against the cage of insecurity inside of me, then I’d better get some keys to help unlock the cage door. So I commenced my Diploma of Arts – Professional Writing & Editing at Box Hill Institute. Three fantastic years later, set on my path and armed with confidence, fantastic writing buddies and with two published books and three in-print, I graduated. But a part of me still yearned for a degree – and, I have to add, the cap and gown I was robbed of at my graduation. Every other year the BHI TAFE grads wore gowns, but someone dropped the ball on the planning for the grads of 98.
A couple of people in my Masters have said they won’t be attending their graduation ceremony. And I can understand why with most having already graduated once before and worn the gown and mortar board I so covet. Next year, though when my turn comes, I’ll be there with bells on, Bells on hand that is to help me celebrate.
I can’t wait to wear that mortar board, but I’m pretty happy too that I’ve got one more semester of being a uni kid. So if you see a woman on Swanston Street smiling into the sky a bit goofishly, next year, it could well be me. Or some other middle-aged silly loving what she’s doing and thinking herself very, very lucky to be a uni kid too.
Or it could be a writer hugging news of a new book contract. Now there’s another thrill I’ve never gotten over.