Tag Archives: college

Living in Academic Absentia


In a voice that was forceful if apologetic, a man from Fort Valley State University phoned me on Friday to let me know that I would not be attending his school in the fall.

I tried to pause the verdict as he read it as a judge delivering a condemned man’s sentence from the bench. I tried to offer an explanation again, but he spoke through me. He was going to run me over, and while I got the impression that he didn’t want to do this as much as I didn’t want him to, it was a thing that had to be done.


The decision was based on a GPA from 11 years ago, when I was extremely poor and desperate. But that humiliating figure remains an albatross too great to ignore. I guess all the guys who flunked out because they partied too much have given the rest of us a bad name.

Now, I find myself again in a very painful, lonely place. My face is pressed to the ceiling of life. I want to achieve more, but no one will consider me for anything other than what I’m doing now unless I have a degree. I will never be promoted, I will never be considered for another position within our without my company. I will be what I am now for as long as the powers that be will allow me. And then I will be cast out, a husk that no one will look at twice because of all the positions in my field for which a bachelor’s degree is requisite for consideration.

I asked if they would take me on a probationary basis. Let me prove that my miserable academic performance from all those years ago did not represent my capabilities. But no. I asked if that old GPA might eventually age-out — could I come back and apply again in five years? 10 years? — but it wouldn’t matter. They’d still request the same transcript and come to the same conclusion based on that antiquated metric. If the GPA were at least marginal they might be able to work something out, but the performance just wasn’t there. There were more deserving people to accept in their program. People who didn’t screw the pooch a decade ago.

It’s scary going through life on your intuition and instincts, operating in professional environments without the confidence that you gain (and others recognize) that comes with a college degree. All my life lessons and experience matters little. I still have to learn things the hard way — and I have a lot to learn. I have to figure out the things others were told. I’m a poseur. I don’t belong here. I’m stupid, and it’s only a matter of time before I’m found out.

I hoped my pursuit of a degree would enable me to make amends. I knew I would take time, but time feels like it moves pretty quick these days. I would’ve finished my degree before I knew it.

This isn’t the end. The somewhat apologetic man from Fort Valley State suggested I apply at Georgia Perimeter College. Their deadline for the fall semester is tomorrow, July 1, and their systems to accept applications are down for scheduled maintenance at the moment. I’ll apply, pay them my $20, send them my FAFSA and my transcripts and my immunization records. And when they reject me, I’ll ask what I can do that would gain me acceptance to their program. And I’ll do what they tell me, applying elsewhere, and asking what I can do when I’m rejected there as well.
I will grovel in the dust of academia. I will go before the admissions offices on my knees. I will repent, disavow my previous performance and swear that I will do better. I am willing to do this the hard way.

And when at last I’m out of options — when I ask what I can do and they say, “nothing” — then I’ll know I’ve reached the end and I will give up on this dream. I’ll accept it. I’ll be the dumb man that my academic record proves I am. It doesn’t matter why I’m excluded from academia. It doesn’t matter that poverty and shame had such a role in my last foray into education. I enjoy learning things and I want to be a learned person. I’ve taught myself a great deal and I’ve learned as much as I could from those who were willing to take the time to teach.

I’m scared and lonely. I don’t know if I’m forever excluded from academia. In spite of my poor performance, I recall how much I enjoyed being a college student. I remember the joy of sitting for an hour or more and listening to someone who was a verified expert speak on their chosen subject, imparting their wisdom. I relished the challenge of the advanced college-level classes. I starved, froze and learned a lot more about humility than I did astronomy.

So, I’ll keep applying. I’ll keep graciously accepting the calls and messages denying my admission. I’ll grieve. I’ll remain ashamed. Hell, it says in the Bible, isn’t fire and brimstone: it’s simply absence from God. To be in hell means to be excluded from love, to be cast out.

And so, this is hell.


Life, Sans Degree


Here’s how my high school guidance counselor helped me get into college some 15 years ago:

Me, sticking my head in the door to her office: “Hey, I got an eleven-hundred on the SAT. Do you think that’s good enough to get into Georgia State?”

Her: “Yeah, that should be fine.”

End scene.

That was it. That was all the help I got. Neither of my parents had gone to college, and both had desk jobs in air conditioned workspaces, which was better than their parents (who also had not gone to college — or necessarily finished high school for that matter) had it.

I carefully considered my options. I would be paying my own way, and could live at home as long as I helped pay a bill here or there. My high school GPA wasn’t good enough for a scholarship, but I could get loans and, maybe, a Pell grant. There were two public colleges within driving distance to my house (three, counting Georgia Tech, but there was no way I had the math and science skills to apply for that school): Georgia State University, in Atlanta, and the University of West Georgia in Carrollton.

Expensive college

This is Wellesley College, which Forbes ranked among the best private schools in the Northeast. You’ll pay more than $50,000 to go here. I got kicked out of my in-state public school for $300 I didn’t have.

I fumbled through applications for both, finishing them in the small hours of the morning on a school night and mailed each the next day from a blue mail dropbox in front of what was then a Winn-Dixie. West Georgia accepted me right away; Georgia State wanted me to finish a math class I was taking first and then send my transcripts again (Algebra II, which I was taking for the third time), which I did, and was then accepted there as well.

Since Georgia State was a little more stringent in their application requirements (and since their tuition was actually a little lower at the time), I decided to go there.

I was excited. I was in college. For the first time in my life, I’d actually have an advantage: a college education. I was excluded from advanced history classes in high school and had to fight tooth and nail to take an AP Literature class. My teachers had little faith in my academic ability, but I came out with As in both the AP Literature class and the prerequisite Pacesetters English class. I had been booted from the staff of my middle school newspaper by a teacher who pulled me into the hall one day and told me I’d “never make it as a writer.”

There were students who were favored for great things. Maybe they had older siblings who showed promise, or received praise from their former instructors that called attention to their abilities. But ever since the second week of the first grade, when another kid tried to take my jacket and I took him to the ground and bashed his head against a rock (to be clear, I never picked up the rock; it was merely there while I held the boy’s hair and struck his head against it repeatedly), my reputation was one of a brawler who didn’t like it if you messed with his stuff. Other students were being tended, nurtured; I was well aware that they were shuffling me through before I could hurt someone.

It’s not that I thought myself stupid or ignorant. I read a lot and I exhibited some skill with words. I won my share of writing contests and made it through several rounds of an oratory competition that the Optimist Club sponsored.

At last, though, I would be in college, where every class was a “college-level” course. I would be challenged, but that just meant I could prove myself. They didn’t know about that time I beat a kid’s head against a rock, or the time I beat another kid’s head against some metal lockers in middle school, or the time I beat still another kid’s head against a bench in the locker room (I’m seeing a theme here), or if they did, they didn’t care. I was a college man now!

Then I came home after work one day and all our shit was gone.

It was the summer after I graduated high school, a few weeks before the start classes. I was working for the Douglas County Sentinel, which was then a daily newspaper, with my own by-line and everything. I had a desk in an air conditioned workspace. I was living the dream.

The kitchen table and hutch were gone. A lot of the silverware and all the good cookware was gone. The TV was gone. The living room furniture was gone. The pictures were gone off the walls. A bedroom suite was gone. My computer was gone.

I called my dad first to tell him he needed to come home, as we obviously had been robbed. That’s when I found out that, no, we hadn’t been robbed; my mother moved out. She took whatever she wanted, and moved into a duplex one town over.

So, I sat in a house with two mortgages and no central air, and panicked. I didn’t expect my parents to pay for my college, but I’d hoped they pay for some stuff that would help, like Internet and electricity and water and such. But now the second income for the house would have to be mine (if we were going to keep the place, and again, I didn’t really have anywhere else to live, so my hands were tied).

For the next four years, I did anything I could to turn a buck. I wrote papers for other students, worked as a copy editor for an online upstart news site, made $6 an hour at the Sentinel, sold books and CDs at a big-box retail store called Media Play, worked as news editor and managing editor of the college newspaper, anything. One day, I met up with a blues musician friend at a Home Depot and stood around to get hired on as a day laborer. I didn’t get picked up; I guess I looked like I might know something about labor laws, and probably didn’t look like I could do the plumbing. (Slim got picked up though, but he’s Puerto Rican, so…)

A low point came when I gave another student my research and background work I had done for my own paper in one of my own classes. I took a hit academically, but he paid me enough to get the water cut back on. Another low point came when, flat broke, I went three days with no food at all. Finally, getting a little shaky and desperate, I used my key to get into my grandparents’ old smoke house and found a stack of boxes in the back. They contained Mason jars, and the jars contained home-canned green beans, creamed corn and stewed tomatoes. In my grandfather’s distinctive handwriting, in magic marker on the outside of the box, was “1978.” If that was right, these vegetables were older than me. I carried an armful of them outside and studied them in the sunlight. They looked OK. No mold, no discoloration. I remembered my grandfather talking about being hungry during the Depression, how he learned to never be too proud to eat anything. He had passed away before now, but I understood in a very real way what he meant. I had started driving past the trash bins at restaurants, remembering all the food we threw out when I worked in food service because of spoilage, and knowing that there were probably biscuits and burgers and all sorts of things in there I could eat. With that, a jar of 25-year-old green beans sealed in my grandmother’s sterile kitchen seemed a safer source of nutrition. It might make me sick, but at least I’d be sick with a full belly.

I ate on those three jars for four days until I got paid again. I then went out and bought a trunk full of ramen noodles and a pillowcase-sized bag of white rice.

In the end, a professor called me to the front of the class. It was Dr. Rieber. He was a very good professor. I’d taken his classes before. He was very discreet; he just handed me the note the university had given him. I owed about $300 in student fees. If I didn’t pay today, I would not be able to continue taking classes. He invited me to take my seat again. He said I could keep coming to his class as far as he was concerned; he just wouldn’t be able to assign me a grade because I would no longer be in his computer. I told him he was kind, but I didn’t want to waste his time. The $300 might as well have been $3 million — I didn’t have it, I couldn’t get it, it wasn’t going to happen. I put my binder back in my bookbag, zipped it up, walked to my Oldsmobile in the parking deck without air conditioning and left. Maybe I could save up the money and come back.

A few weeks later, I was sitting at a conference room table inside the Marietta Daily Journal, with a full-time job offer on the table. Paid vacation, health and dental, the works. I could work one job, 40 hours a week, and make more than I did working four jobs in college. So, I took the job and put college behind me. I’d gone for four years — long enough to have earned a degree — but honestly, I’d only been enrolled in classes so I could stay on my dad’s health insurance plan. I hadn’t been going to class very often, and I didn’t have books for any of them. I couldn’t afford the gas and the parking to drive to campus most days, or the MARTA fare. And if I was in class, I was paying; if I was out of class and working, I was getting paid. I needed the getting paid part. Not eating for days because you’re penniless sucks. Not knowing if the lights will be on when you come home from work sucks. Washing yourself off in a spigot on the side of someone else’s house before work sucks. College rendered me very poor for a long time then kicked me out for being poor. Work, as the Nazis famously said, would set me free.

I met a girl, got an apartment, got married, built a house, got a better job, then a better job, then a raise at the better job. I had a child, then had another (with said wife, to be clear). I made my way forward with life. I’ve done OK. I’m not rich, sometimes things are tight. I wish I could go to the beach this year. But we do OK. We get by.

And more, I’ve helped said wife fulfill her ambitions. She earned a bachelor’s degree, with honors, and a master’s, also with honors. I did everything I could to help her achieve these ends, from putting forth my expertise with words to help her with her papers to keeping the house up and taking care of our daughter so she could take classes and complete assignments. We lived very hand-to-mouth, but we made it work, and now she gets to be home at night and on weekends and holidays, which is a big damn deal for a nurse.

But it eats me that I never got a degree. For all the hell I went through, for all the things that should’ve been easy and weren’t, for all the fear and anxiety and shame, for all the times I swallowed what I could be so I could see another day as what I was, I have nothing to show for it but a $300 blight on my otherwise sterling credit history.

Fort Valley State University

Fort Valley State University, an HBCU in Fort Valley, Ga., that might give me an opportunity to finish my degree, if we all clap our hands and REALLY BELIEVE.

I’m trying to remedy that. I want a degree. I want it desperately. I’ve already shown that I’ll bleed for it as long as I have blood to give. I’ve put that dream behind me for a decade so I could be a good employee, a good father and a good husband. And I expect to remain all these things, but I want to be a good student, too. I want to prove myself.

I know I can’t take classes in person — the only schools that cater to nontraditional students like me with evening programs are either not close by or private and radically expensive. I need an online option. I’ve found one at a small, historically black university in Peach County, Ga. — Fort Valley State University. It’s a bachelor’s in professional and technical writing. I’ve looked at it a few times before, but wrote it off because I either didn’t have time or (initially) because the class description had a few typos in it.

At this point, however, I don’t care. I just want a degree. I deserve the opportunity to earn that. I deserved that much when I came home that summer afternoon and found the house empty. Because people are selfish and don’t cotton to the responsibility that having a child carries with it isn’t my fault. I’m here, after all of this. I’ve pushed on, with my head down and the sun on my back.

I wasn’t supposed to get as far as I’ve come without a degree. People are stunned to hear I never finished college. It’s a shame that I talk around all the time with awkward phrasing. “Where did you graduate?” “I went to Georgia State.” I’ve had to prove myself more than anyone with a degree. I can’t just walk in and be considered for a position for which I’m qualified; I have to qualify myself as uneducated but experienced.

So, I’ve waded through hell and bureaucracy and fought for three solid weeks to get my debt paid and transcripts released by Georgia State, and now I’m waiting on FVSU. I’m waiting to hear if they’ll overlook by abysmal Georgia State transcript. I’m waiting to see if I’ll have the opportunity that I gave up a decade ago. Whatever academic sins I committed then, surely I’ve paid the penance now.

There are inmates taking correspondence classes to earn degrees right now; why not me?

I completed my application earlier this month. I sent the admissions folks everything they wanted. I asked people I hope think well of me to write letters vouching for my experience and ability. I can’t change the past, but I’ve paid for it.

And Tom Petty is right: Waiting is the hardest part.

Little Deaths


She looks questioningly up at him.  She doesn’t understand.  He always wants her there.  He hates that she lives so far away.

So how can he be asking, pushing her to leave?  Yes, it’s late, and she has class the next afternoon, but that’s never kept him from holding her until the last possible second.

She knows this is best, that she should leave, because it’s the last week before finals, but she can’t help the crushing feelings from all but overwhelming her.  He walks her to her car, kisses her tenderly, and walks back to his apartment.

* * * * * * *

She’s eating dinner with her best friend and his buddy from high school.  They joke, laugh, and entertain her with stories from their past, but she can’t get past the feeling that she just doesn’t like Chris’s old friend.  He’s arrogant, somehow.

Midway through the pizza and wings, Zack looks up at her and asks, “So you’re dating someone at the Lawrenceville Friday’s?”

She shoots an annoyed glance at Chris who just gives a guilty, boyish grin.

“Yeah.  His name’s Tony.  Why?”

“Really?  I work there.  Tony and I hang out sometimes.  I didn’t know he was seeing someone at GSW.”  He has this smile that’s shifty, sneaky, satisfied, and gloating in one.  How could anyone truly like this guy?

She’s already decided to ignore him when she hears Chris ask, “What’s that supposed to mean?”  Apparently, he had heard the hidden implications as well.

“Forget it, Chris.  It doesn’t matter.”

Chris looks at her, says, “Okay,” then glares at his old friend.

* * * * * * *

“How was your trip?  Did you guys have fun at the bachelor party?  Where did y’all take him?”

“Vanessa, we need to talk.  Take a seat, I’ll order you some coffee.  White mocha?”


What had happened?  Was he okay?  Had they gotten into trouble?  She fidgets with the edge of her red skirt and the straps of her bookbag, worrying about the seriousness in Chris’s face.

Chris was always smiling – what could have happened?

He squeezes his way back over with two coffees, sits, and begins to nurse his own.

She blows to cool hers, waiting as patiently as she can.

Several minutes pass, and Chris watches people passing outside with dark clothes and umbrellas.  It’s not a pretty day.

“Well?” she demands.

He visibly steels himself, turns to look at her, and baldy states, “Tony’s cheating on you.”


“I saw him last night at Friday’s before we took Zack to the strip club.  He was waiting tables.  Every time he had a minute away from his tables, he and this girl were all over each other.  Zack caught me before I did something you might regret.”

“That’s not funny, Chris.”

He looked worn, much older than his twenty-one years.  He closed his eyes and nodded once.

“Why would you say that?  Tony loves me!  He wants to marry me!  I can’t believe you would do this to me…”

She storms out of the cafe, angry with Chris and his games.  Why couldn’t he ever just be happy for her?  As she passed the window next to their booth, she noticed that he hadn’t moved a muscle.

* * * * * * *

In the hour since she’d stormed out of Joe’s, Chris had called her ten times.  She was at the point of turning it off for awhile when “Brown-eyed Girl” sang from its speakers.

She almost dropped it in her haste to answer.  “Tony!” she breathed in relief.  She hadn’t even realized she was holding her breath until that moment.

“Ness.”  He’d been crying.

“What’s the matter, hon?”

“Ness, I’m so sorry.  I’m so stupid.  I’m so sorry.”

Cold fear spread from her fingertips and toes, up her arms and legs, through her torso and around her heart.  When it managed to pierce even there, tremors began racking her limbs.  How long all of this took, how long she sat shaking, she wasn’t sure.

“Ness?  Vanessa?  Oh, baby… Can we see each other?  I need to see you.  I’ll drive there-”

“No.”  She didn’t want him here, bringing his bad news to her warm, safe apartment.  “I’ll drive to you.”

She hit the end button and began throwing random things into a bag.  As she was locking the door, she realized she had no idea what was in the bag, because what could she possibly use from her living room to fix this?

The drive didn’t seem to take nearly as long as it should.  She pulls into a spot just below his stairs, grabs her bag, and is at his door with no knowledge of ascending the stairs.  She hopes she locked her doors.

He comes to the door, bringing a whiff of the cologne she bought him for Christmas, pulls her into his arms, releases her with something like fear or shock – she’s not sure which – in his expression.

They walk to his bedroom; he’s carrying her bag of miscellaneous items.  She numbly realizes he’s probably thinking she came to spend the night.  He places it on the chair outside his bathroom door, and they sit facing each other on his futon.

She uses all her self-possession to keep from jumping off this unfaithful bed, from spitting on its lumpy old comforter.

He pulls her hand into his lap, and he begins to talk.

* * * * * * *

She didn’t scream or rage, and she didn’t cry like she thought she would.  But her insides are still frozen, and she’s been pulling away physically every few moments.  He’s done.  He’s been done.  He’s waiting for her, and she thinks she sees a trace of that earlier fear before looking back at her interlocked hands.

“Is that all?”  He nods, tears escaping onto his khakis.  “Okay.  I should leave, then.”

She makes to go, and he clings to her.  “Wait!  Can’t we, can’t we talk?  You can’t just leave.  We have to talk.  We have to figure this out!”

She’s never seen him beg before, never seen such raw, yet boyish, pain.  She considers him for a minute, then gently unclasps his hands from hers.  She shoulders her bag and leaves, closing his bedroom door behind her.  She takes a moment, then makes her way through his now crowded living room, blindly nodding at who she assumes are his roommates, and she arrives at the door.  She turns the handle for the last time, pulls it to her, and slips into the chilling air.  Funny.  She didn’t notice the winter wind earlier.  She climbs down the first set of stairs before sinking onto the landing.

The gates are open.  The flood has come.  She succumbs.

Her arms wrap themselves around her knees, her bag is gone, her head falls forward.  She sits for days releasing her pain, washing her heart clean.

A distant jingle-jangle dances through the air, and she thinks of her cat, her furball, sitting at home waiting for her.  She’s almost to her feet, wiping her eyes as she pushes herself up, and “Vanessa!” cuts through the cold night and lands in her chest.

She doesn’t turn, she doesn’t answer.  She can only look down at the beautifully carved hilt sticking from her breast, knowing she won’t be able to remove it.

Tony picks up her bag from some three or four steps below, looks up into her face, then lifts her across his chest.  He carries her back to his room, murmuring sweet thanks into her ear, heedless of the blood and life seeping from under his hands.

The Cons of Coeds


Maybe I’m old fashioned. No, I know I am. I smoke a pipe for Chrissake. And, having spent my college years sleeping on a couch in my parents’ basement, it’s not the case that I have a tremendous frame of reference when it comes to dorm life. When I was in college, the dorms were a place I had no business being; I went to Georgia State and student housing at the time was in the former Olympic Village down near Georgia Tech. Being that I was never looking to “score” (yeah, no drugs either), I seldom found myself down there, and when I was, I typically waited in the car and rummaged through the glove box of whomever I happened to be riding with.

As news editor of the college paper, I saw the police reports and I knew what kinds of crazy shit went down in those dorms. I also understood what used to be where those dorms were; it was a place called Techwood, and it was low-income housing that had gained a respectable level of infamy. When they demolished Techwood to build the Olympic Village, they got rid of the housing, but not the people. The same elements that made Techwood so unsavory continued to linger around the Village. From the police reports, I became aware of the occasional drug deal gone bad, assault (sexual and other), medical emergencies probably resulting from overdoses and alcohol poisoning and other manner of general shenanigans.

The students I knew who lived in the dorm didn’t seem at all too concerned about it. I only had one room of girls who came to me as a last resort when they had witnessed a shooting in the dorm room across the hall and really wanted to be moved to another room since the shooter was at large, knew what they’d seen and knew where they lived. (Seems I recall the university’s response was to install new locks.) The Village was a large place, it had security systems to lend a false sense of security, and because of the limited common areas (every room had four bedrooms, two bathrooms and one kitchen/living room), most people didn’t seem to know any other residents extremely well.

The dorms were, in fact, coed. Men and women did not necessarily share the same rooms, but certainly shared the same floor. They were, in a way, a sort of low-income dwelling, not so unlike the Techwood development they replaced. That they were coed isn’t at all surprising; research indicates that 90 percent of American universities now employ coed housing.

Research published in 2009 indicates that the major reason why schools employ coed housing is based on student demand. It’s easier, apparently, to attract students who will not be forced to sneak into their boyfriend or girlfriend’s dorm in secret and hide from the R.A.’s. However, the research said, students who live in coed housing are more likely to have multiple sexual partners while in school and engage in other risky behaviors, including binge drinking and the use of illicit drugs.

OK, of the four researchers who wrote “The Decline of In Loco Parentis and the Shift to Coed Housing on College Campuses,” one was from Brigham Young University, which – for reasons that should be obvious – does not have coed housing and most likely never will. This is a school that sacrificed one of their best shots at an NCAA title in basketball by benching their center for boinking his girlfriend. Students rioted once because a vendor was inadvertently stocking a vending machine with a beverage that contained caffeine. They take this shit seriously.

And the only university looking to turn back the clock and reestablish single-sex housing is the Catholic University of America. I mean, if the Mormons can have single-sex housing, why not the Catholics, right?

Liberal though I am, I don’t think this is a bad idea. In fact, I rather think this is an excellent idea. I endorse it, even. Catholic University President John Garvey, in a report from NPR, cited Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, and the idea that a “virtuous life” is essential to achieve sustained happiness.

A man who cites Aristotle is a man after my own heart.

Now, I’m not saying celibacy and clean living is the road to happiness, but I can see how coed living could produce many an opportunity to make regrettable mistakes. And I believe as well that everyone should be afforded the opportunity to “study,” or rather, step away from social pleasures and take the time to think, read and gain a better understanding of themselves and their world. Without understanding yourself, you’ll never know what makes you happy, and you’ll never know just what path Aristotle’s virtuous life ought to lead you down. Even Aristotle would endorse that sex, drugs and rock and roll are permitted, but in moderation.

From what I’ve understood of dorm life, moderation is hardly standard.

In full disclosure, it should be noted that there is research out there that suggests coed living has the opposite effect of that described here. A professor at George Mason University, David Anderson, has been studying the effects of coed living for a long time and says that it actually does have a moderating effect, with residents looking out for one another as brothers and sisters.

However, based on my own observations and experience, too much too fast and too young rips one’s health asunder. It takes time and experience to understand how to healthily manage life’s affairs, from seeing someone you love find happiness with another partner to knowing how far down that handle of bourbon you can go before you start writing stupid poems about that someone you love and the asshole she’s with. It is best to expose yourself to such things gradually and carefully, understanding pain and the pleasure of indulgence and how best to control both. At 18, full of vinegar and hormones and released on a building full of potential suitors, I’ve no doubt that I wouldn’t have lasted as long in school as I did.

I like this idea of single-sex dorms; at least for students of a certain age. The housing must be equal for it to be fair, to be sure, but I think this is a very good policy. Sustaining single-sex dorms for a period of the students’ formable years (at least freshman and sophomore) will provide that opportunity to immerse themselves in their subjects and explore their own desires in life.

And if the desire in life is to live in coed housing, there will be plenty of time for that after they wed. But it won’t be anything like they expected.