Author's Note 1:
The University of British Columbia is in Vancouver, which is most likely the city to which Spencer took a bus in that episode where he accidentally ended up in Canada and discovered Canadian bacon.
"In 20 years, I guarantee you, I will be Carly's second husband." ~ Fredward Benson, iSpy a Mean Teacher
On January 3, 2009, Mr. Carly Shay, the second, was brutally pushed off a Seattle fire escape plummeting eight stories to an instant and painless death.
And then it was just me—without a road map, uncertain of what the future might hold, and at some deep level that I still wasn't fully aware of, scared out of my mind.
And no, I didn't fall in love with her the second that our lips met that day. I simply realized that I'd never been in love within anyone in the first place. Attracted to? Yes. Infatuated with? Perhaps. But it couldn't be love if I could kiss someone else like that without once thinking of her. Without thinking of Carly.
So there I was, stripped of that longstanding delusion I had created about where my love life was inevitably heading and fundamentally less certain about anything any more. Because doubt had been introduced and it wasn't going away. Sure, I could largely shove it out of my mind and my awareness that night and just sit there listening to my music. But truth has a tendency to catch up with you.
In some ways, I was relieved when my mother started to push Brown and to push Brown hard. I can't tell at this point if it ever truly seemed like the ideal place to go to college or if it's appeal was largely the lack of decision required from me. It was, after all, very easy to capitulate to my mother's judgment and it served as an endpoint to work towards. That was both the good thing and the bad thing about it.
It gave me a sense of firmer footing but that was accompanied by a nasty side effect: tunnel vision. It didn't let me my see what was going on around me or within me. But like I said, truth has a tendency to catch up with you.
When I received my acceptance letters from Brown and the backup schools I had applied to, my mother practically threw a parade for me. She was so happy. Carly and Spencer were also really excited for me as well. Everyone was happy and it wonderful. Until, once again, the delusion came crashing down. And once again it was her. Sam.
The thing about it was, she was happy for me too. She wasn't off throwing parades or making me celebratory sculptures, but I could tell that she was genuinely happy. That night when I told her she smiled at me softly and told me how glad she was.
"Good for you dork," she smiled warmly. "Now you'll finally be able to go off and live the life of your dreams." She was looking at me softly and let off a small half-laugh.
And suddenly I realized that I was not happy. Not unhappy in an I-was-hoping-she would-react-differently sort of way, but unhappy in the sense that I wanted my life to be profoundly and utterly different. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me and another version of Freddie Benson splattered on the pavement. I excused myself from our little gathering five minutes later and went off by myself to think.
And yesterday, I finally did it. Carly had accepted her offer from Berkeley weeks ago and Sam had known that she would be attending Seattle Community College for sometime now. I, on the other hand, had been living in a state of limbo for weeks, unbeknownst to anyone. I hadn't responded to my letters.
But we all make decisions. As terrifying as it is, we all have to choose what we want out of life and then we have to live with those choices.
And when I declined my offer to Brown and accepted my offer to the University of British Columbia it wasn't an impulse. It wasn't what I expected to find myself doing when I pulled out those letters that day, but nonetheless, it was a deliberate and certain act. I mailed the letters the same afternoon.
I was on my way home to tell my mother and Carly when I found myself on a cross-town bus headed in the other direction. And then I was at her door.
"What?" she asked opening the door.
"I declined my offer to Brown," I blurted out. "I declined it and I'm going to UBC instead."
And I looked up at her expectantly, pleadingly, willing her to say what I, in that moment, realized I was desperately hoping to hear . . .
But a look of horror formed on her face.
"That was damn stupid," she said softly and I was left stunned.
"Oh," I managed to get out. We stood there in silence for what seemed like hours and then I turned around and started to walk away.
"Freddie!" she called after me.
I turned around and looked at her, daring her to speak.
"I, I decided to go to prom with Ross Campbell," she said softly.
"Oh," I said again, turning around and walking away.
After I left, I just walked. Walked around the city for a few hours before heading home, trying to take in what happened and what I was feeling. And at some point I asked myself if it was worth it—if I had made good choices and where my life was going and what I really wanted to do.
And, bizarrely, as I thought about it all, I found myself smiling. Maybe I declined that offer in part for the wrong reasons and maybe I don't have as much choice about my life as I originally thought. But for the first time in a long time, I know what I want. Not what is even possible or what is going to happen, but what I truly want.
And shit, I'm 18-years old. I have time to make mistakes, and if I screw up a little bit then so what? Let's just hope that my mother feels the same way . . .
Well a crazy woman and a neurotic man, should never ever ever make a wedding plan. And a wistful day and a night on earth, make a poor man sit and contemplate what it's all worth . . .
Author's Note 2:
According to U.S. News & World Report, Brown is #27 on the "World's Best Colleges and Universities List." University of British Columbia (UBC) is #34 on the same list. Therefore, the schools are actually more comparable than you would think and Freddie has not actually made such a radical choice / sacrificed his education. Nor would he. If he had decided to go to community college instead, well, that would be OC.
And while you can assume that Freddie knows what a good school UBC is (it is ranked higher than Berkeley actually), not all the characters in this story spend their free time reading US News & World Report's college ranking lists . . .
Also, thanks to PinkJelly for her input about the summary quote used. :-)