After much debate with myself I decided to return to school. Registration began yesterday, so I'm still getting adjusted to this new situation.
The campus is unusual, and spreads out across a desert flat as a table top. I arrived close to sunset yesterday. With the sun's orange rays streaming down, the desert sand glowed with the color of fire. Scores of jungle gyms and swing sets littered the landscape. Some appeared brand new and gleamed in the bright light, while others were dull, rusty and looked ready to topple over with the slightest breeze. Instead of large stone buildings, the school uses gigantic circus tents for classrooms. I walked by them, lugging my heavy load of books and clothes, trying to find my way to to the dormitories. With my arms getting tired, I searched for someone to help me out.
I saw a large man with a shaved head wearing a sign across his chest that said, "Hi! I'm Simon. Ask me if you're lost."
So I walked up to him and said, "Hello, Simon. Am I lost?"
Simon raised an open palm to me and I saw a deep green eyeball in the center. I first thought it an elaborate tattoo, but it winked at me. "Do you know where you are?" Simon asked.
"Yes. No. Kind of. At college."
Simon moved his hand with the eye up and down in a nodding motion. "Do you know where you're going?"
"Sort of. The dorms. I don't know where they are, though."
"You're borderline," Simon said with a sigh. "But lost enough, I suppose, for me to talk to. Just head that way. You'll see the dorm with your name on it."
Simon's free hand pointed farther down the plateau. Following his direction, I found my way to an encampment of smaller tents ranging in all styles and colors. Mine was a simple dome tent, bright green, nestled underneath a giant swing set. Aside from the single swing, the set also had a gleaming silver slide a a long rope perfect for climbing, swinging or both. I walked though the doorway and looked around. The bare floor was neatly swept, with nice neat lines running through the sand. The sunlight blazing through the fabric of the tent gave everything a neon-green hue. A man was sitting on the floor, legs crossed and fumbling with a red flying-v electric guitar. He's average height with a thick mass of curly, black hair and a jet-black mustache, wearing white t-shirt that exclaimed, "Gravity. It's not just a good idea. It's the law."
"Hi, I'm Frank Zappa!" he said as he stood up. "I guess we're roomies."
He held out his hand to shake my own. I took his hand, felt his tight grip and said, "Nice to meet you. I thought you were dead."
Zappa simply shrugged in reply. "They'll accept anyone at this school."
"You still play?" I said, pointing at the guitar. "Are you a music major?"
"Nah. That's just a hobby now. I'm majoring in sandwiches."
"Yeah. They're my passion now."
Zappa bends down and presses hard on the ground. A giant refrigerator popped out of the ground, brought up by some spring-loaded secret panel. The refrigerator stands three people high and two people wide and seems much too large for the size of the tent. Yet, somehow, it manages to fit. Zappa opens the door and starts tossing sandwiches at me as he pulls them out of the refrigerator. Tuna on rye. Hard salami on a baguette. Broiled fish eyes between two pieces of chicken-fried steak. Asphalt patties on wheat grass bread. I look at them closely.
"They look delicious," I said. "But they're all made out of styrofoam."
He gave me a look like I'm an idiot. "Well of course. You don't get to work with real food until your at least half-way through the program."
I nodded, pretending to understand.
"What about you?" he asked. "What's your major?"
"I'm still trying to figure that out."
"Undecided, eh? You better decide soon. Might end up like Simon out there."
"What do you mean?"
"Word is, he refused to declare a major. By the time graduation rolled around they had to give him something to do. So now he just stands out there, helping people who are lost. So you better get on track, bucko." Zappa then made a gun shape with his hand, cocked the trigger and fired at me. A pop sound came from nowhere.
"Well," I said. "I'm going to unpack."
"Please do. Don't let me stand in your way."
I unrolled my sleeping bag and unpacked my books and clothes, piling them up neatly wherever I could. Zappa played with his sandwiches, swapping the parts from one to another creating new and bizarre combinations of potential food. After packing, I read a bit of the newest issue of Fence and put my head down to sleep. Zappa was still up, playing with his sandwiches.
And thus began my new foray into education.