The Punch That Changed Everything

“Hey Dad” I half whispered into the phone. “Hey kiddo what’s up?” He responded “Is something wrong? You sound a little weird.”

My dad has always said that he prides himself in having such an independent child.  Then adds with a chuckle that sometimes I may be a little too independent for my own good. I resist help whenever it’s offered and insist on doing all things my own way; admitting defeat is not my strong suit. If I have a problem with something I often don’t hesitate to make it known. This can come off as a little brash in certain situations but it’s often not intended on my part.

“What do you mean you got in a fight and got kicked out of school?” he said astonished, “How does that even happen? Explain this to me right now Kelsey.”

At this point I was terrified that he was going to yell, which always reduced me to tears no matter what age. “I don’t know…” I sputtered, “Addison started it!”

My self-proclaimed independence is something my family has always found comical and slightly exasperating. I use to get in heated arguments with boys that were mean to me in elementary school. I was always getting in trouble for causing a scene in class or sticking up for other people. In third grade, much to my mother’s dismay, my dad gave me a crash course in how to fight because some girl in my class was bothering me. Number one rule: “don’t throw the first punch but when you do hit them, make it count”.

Truth be told, I had never gotten along with my roommate. Addison was a spoiled only child from the Upper East Side. Her parents were multi-millionaires, a fact she never failed to bring up in conversation whenever she could find the place. She believed the sun rose and set according to her schedule. From the moment she walked into our room that first day I knew we were going to have a problem. She did nothing to hide her disdain for my Macy’s comforter and scoffed at my Target storage bins. As she unpacked her Louis Vuitton luggage she made sure to flash all her designer shoes and handbags in my direction.

This independence my father prides himself in so much, followed me well through high school and was a huge part of my college decision process. All I wanted to do was go to school in a big city whether it be New York or Boston. That all changed one November day when I visited the campus of Salve Regina in Newport, I instantly fell in love. From the Admissions Building, an old mansion that had been donated, to the ocean that encircled the whole campus, I was enamored with it all. I immediately knew that’s where I belonged. It was more then a little pricey but I was willing to sacrifice being in debt for years to go to the school of my dreams.

Salve is a private university known for its students mostly coming from upper-middle class families. My family is not struggling but if the student population were dogs, they’d all be purebred poodles and I would be a retriever of some sorts. It is also know for having a student population of mainly girls. I don’t get along with self-entitled girls. Their pretentiousness drives me crazy, something I often tell them. Nonetheless I was unconcerned and convinced on going there. In late August my parents dropped me off at the breathtaking campus that was going to be my home for the next four years. After I unpacked my room my dad gave me a hug and parted with his usual “Behave yourself. Don’t get into any trouble”.

“I’m sorry Dad. I tried to ignore her and just leave when she started yelling at me. She pulled my hair! What was I suppose to do?!” I pleaded desperately at him through the phone. No response.

This wasn’t a lie. She had pulled my hair and only then did I respond with my fists. It all started when she accused me of going in her closest (which was impossible as I hadn’t in the room that whole night) and she was a little too drunk.

“So what does this mean?” he demanded, “Are you completely done or can you go back next semester?”

I couldn’t really answer that because during my meeting with the Dean I just sat there speechless. I couldn’t think of any of the questions I meant to ask.

The fight wasn’t all that dramatic. She pulled my hair when I walked away from her as she was screaming at me, (she wasn’t fond of being ignored) and I pushed her off of me and got one good punch to her perfectly MAC lined lips before my friends dragged me out of the room. There was no blood and if it were at a larger, public school it would have flown completely under the radar. But no, this is Addison we’re talking about; she had to cause a huge scene. When I returned to my room the next morning I found my RD waiting for me to confront me about the whole thing.

Ultimately it was her parents that demanded I be removed from campus for causing her “mental and physical distress”. Since they’re top benefactors…well it is not surprising how that one turned out. I left Salve three days after the fight and kissed my fantasy school good bye.

* * *

I never went to Salve Regina although I wanted to more then words could explain, I’m still a little bitter. The price was the deciding factor as to how I ended up at Umass Dartmouth. But my dad always jokes that it was a good thing I didn’t because I would have been kicked out for getting into a fight with a snooty, rich girl.

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