Yes, after everything I went through I was determined to get a Bachelor’s degree. The General Manager where I was employed at the time, Mr. Watson told me about the school he graduated from Oklahoma State University. I researched the Hotel and Restaurant Administration program and found it was a good fit for me. I enrolled in 2000 and moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma. Who says an ant can’t move a rubber tree plant? So here we go again…this time I tell myself I am going to be smarter. I hit the book hard again, but this time I learned to have a little fun along the way.
When it came time to complete my mandatory internship several different companies came to our school to recruit for the summer. One company peaked my interest was located in New Orleans. Thinking Mardi gras (Fat Tuesday) I thought to myself you deserve to have fun. In order to avoid a relapse and being on medications again, I started writing my thoughts and feelings on paper. After a while I again fell in love with writing. In high school, I had a poem published entitled Who is Worthy of the Praise? in the local newspaper; I won an essay writing contests, and just genuinely loved to write. I viewed this as the perfect opportunity to raise money to go to New Orleans. I would take a picture and paste it next to a poem I wrote frame it and sell it. It was genius, I thought. I started my own company named after one of my poems, A Poet’s Expression. I made business cards at Kinkos. I was official. I spent thousands of dollars with Kinkos and used them for the all of my printing. Although I gave most of my framed poems away as gifts, I did raise enough money to go to New Orleans for the summer. It was a great experience.
Poetry Reading in N’walins
Not many people close to me know this, but while there I got the opportunity to present one of my poems at Sweet Lorraine’s at a poetry slam. That is something I have always wanted to do. Still that shy kid lives inside me so I read one of the shorter one. The reaction from the audience was positive. The host MC said, "Make that longer". Which in turn caused the audience of maybe 7 agree with him. To me just being able to read it not spoken word, but read something so personal was great. This was a big accomplishment for me, short or not. In addition to my internship I also took a class to get extra credits out of the way. Since I was taking a class I decided to stay on campus. I met some great people in New Orleans, I was very sad when Hurricane Katrina hit. The people I came in contact with in the Big Easy were very caring, compassionate people. One Security dispatcher I trained with named Herbert told me, “If you ever lived in New Orleans, you are from New Orleans.” I believe that to be true.
Now the fun is over and it’s time to finish school. It would appear I did not learn from my past experiences because again I have two jobs and a work-study job on campus. One job I worked during the week at a hotel in Stillwater. The other job I worked in Tulsa at a different hotel chain. Imagine that. I was having the time of my life. I had never felt so alive. The art of time management gave me a rush like nothing else. I could pinpoint to the minute, the time I would show up at a class or work to the second. That was a great feeling. To further complicate matters I was not able to keep up payments on my car when I went to New Orleans for my summer internship and it got repossessed. So yes, I would take a bus from Stillwater to Tulsa to go to work. I had so much fun and I was determined to look into the crowd on my graduation day and see my mother’s smile as she watched me on stage.
After much blood, sweat, and tears the day finally came for me to receive my college degree. I remember this day and thinking my family was not going to make it to see me graduate. They were driving from Tulsa to Stillwater, not a great distance, but my family didn't travel much. So I remember walking around with my shades on not wanting to smile. What should have been the happiest day of my life, I did not want to experience it without the people who made it possible. Without my families’ support I would have given up after attempting unsuccessfully to obtain an Accounting degree in 1997. So yes, now 5 years older, I wanted my family to witness and share in my excitement. One of my professors, Professor Ryan said to me, “Marco, why don’t you smile!?” All I could think about was my family missing my graduation. I remember the moment I realized they were in the crowd. Ok, I said to myself, now I can graduate.
Another life changing event from my final year of school I was able to attend the International Hotel and Lodging Convention in New York. It was the year 2002. I will never forget it. Funny thing is on September 12th, I had finals. So I was up all night studying I did not get much sleep and had not watched the news at all. So I arrived to class and the young lady that sat in front of me asked, did you see what happened in New York? No, I replied, what happened? Planes hit 2 buildings! So now all I could think about was the tragedy that occurred on September 11th when planes brought down the World Trade Center. I went to ground zero to see the aftermath. It was a dreary day. There was a mist of rain that day. I asked someone in the area if they could take a photo of me next to the piece of the building that formed the shape of a cross. I remember feeling a sense of overwhelming grief. I believe this experience inspired me to write a poem entitled The Rebirth of America.
The Rebirth of America
September 11th is my birthday.
I was born into a new era of terror…
Can war bring peace?
That’s a contradiction to say the least,
Does the answer lie in the president’s speech?
Or will terrorism continue to be as a leech,
Would it help if I stand in the streets;
Yelling at the top if my lungs: PEACE-
But, beware of the snipers and the DC police!!!
Oil is not the issue…pride plays a bigger factor,
Osama Bin Laden’s attacks took away some our laughter.
If I broadcast a special to stop this war…
Can Iraq and America live together once more?
Will Saddam Hussein succeed, where others have failed?
Or will this nation rise and proclaim stop the violence to the world.
This fantasy may never become reality-
We face a continual fight and struggle in all actuality.
Though our mission is to stand-alone and never be outdone-
Last September, this country became as well as turned ONE,
Our leader gave us war as an initial birthday gift…
This poem is published in A Collection of Poetry: From A Poet's Expression, available on Amazon.com or A Poet's Expression website: https://marco-reynolds.squarespace.com. This poem was also published in the Oklahoma Eagle.