Reflections

Todd Vanderwerff

Todd Vanderwerff

Everything that happens happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so. 8211;Marcus Aurelius

Lemme& tell you a story about a turkey.

When I was a senior in high school, I had decided that USD was the school for me. Please note that I&m not saying anything bad about USD. I have several friends that go there. True, most of them are idiots, but bear with me.

For whatever reason, the college gods had convinced me that USD had the journalism program that would take me places. To me, SDSU was not the place to go. It was a last resort school. A place for the riff raff.

Again, bear with me.

I wasn&t exactly buying my USD Coyotes sweatshirt and foam cowboy hat at this juncture of the game. I had applied to numerous other schools, SDSU among them, and I was biding my time to see if I was going to get that full-ride scholarship to Harvard that would make my life complete.

I also had a girlfriend.

I had quite a few girlfriends in high school, which may surprise some of you now. If you know me in my college phase, you&ll be quick to note that I shave so rarely, small tribes of forest-people live on my face. In addition, I&ve been relatively &taken& by my fiancee for some time now.

But in my senior year, I had a girlfriend and we got along great.

I wasn&t thinking marriage or anything, but I was drifting around the idea of following her to college.

Which brings us back to USD.

And the aforementioned turkey, which is relevent, I promise you.

That Thanksgiving was a warm and slushy one, the kind that depresses through slog. The trees hung with wet, unfallen leaves and the melting snow had made rivulets through the hard ground.

My grandmother, who was in her 80s, had made a turkey every Thanksgiving for the last 40 years or so, and God-willing, she was going to make another turkey again.

At least, that&s how I assumed everything was going to go.

When we arrived in Huron for the Thanksgiving feast, I was shocked to find that my grandmother had prepared nothing. No turkey. No cranberries. No sweet potatoes. Nothing.

I emphasize the turkey because it takes a while to cook a turkey. You could whip up some sweet potatoes in a few minutes flat, but a turkey–a turkey takes time.

My grandmother was fed up with the Thanksgiving concept, I think. Since it wasn&t really Thanksgiving, but the Saturday after Thanksgiving (my familiy had somehow decided that it wasn&t when you celebrated the holiday but the simple fact that you celebrated the holiday), I couldn&t exactly get upset with her. Her logic made sense.

We went to a restaurant in downtown Huron. I don&t remember what I had. It wasn&t particularly memorable, but Huron has never been known for its stunning cuisine.

So we were able to leave Huron a bit earlier than we normally would have.

My girlfriend was in another state. Not good.

At this time, I had a friend, who wanted to be more than friends. I gave her a call. She was in her house for five minutes between work and a wedding dance (wedding dances were a big deal in my corner of small-town America; don&t laugh8211;you&ve probably been to quite a few yourself).

Five minutes.

Regardless, I called her and we decided to get together. And we drove off down a long road made muddy by unusual warmth.

And I cheated on my girlfriend. Which is not something I&ve made a habit of, mind you.

And she got mad and broke up with me.

And consequently USD started to look a lot less attractive.

And I came to a scholarship weekend at SDSU and found Brookings to be a nice enough town.

And I &settled& for SDSU, deciding against the USDs and the Nebraskas and the St. Katherine&s School for Girlses in favor of somewhere in the middle of the middle west.

And I can&t help but think that everything I am, every piece of my college self is determined by a turkey.

Keep in mind that if I had made it home even a minute later, I would not have caught my friend at home and I would most likely be writing something like this at the &Volante& right now.

My fiancee, my friends, my writing career, my job here, my love of theatre … all of these things I owe to my tired grandmother and a too-big 20 pound turkey.

I&m not arguing for the existence of a god who controls every movement we make or anything. I&m just saying things, if looked at long enough, fall into a pleasing enough pattern.

Now, here you are at SDSU. Don&t complain because you had to stay in South Dakota. Don&t whine about how dumb it is to be here.

You are here for a reason. I don&t know why. You don&t know why. Sometimes, it takes a little time for the answer to present itself.

Stop.

Breathe.

Watch.

It will be come clearer.

Tell Todd VanDerWerff he&s an idiot at [email protected]