My first choice was Penn State. It was a more selective school, and it was right next door in Pennsylvania. It was going to cost some, since I wasn't a resident, but all of my other family members had taken on massive debt for school, why not me? I had to take the SAT to try and get in, instead of just the ACT. I applied in September to get in for early admissions.
School number two was Ohio State in Columbus. It was my safety school. It was still open enrollment and it was in a city 50 times larger than the nearest town to me. Just to mention it, because it amuses me, Columbus is also around 2000 times larger than the village in which I grew up. It may be even larger, given that 500 is being generous in terms of population. I applied in September all the same, just to make sure I was in somewhere.
The last one was just a wild shot in the dark; NYU. I had always thought it would be fun to just have a radical change, but well, much like the idea of going in as an army linguist, it stayed just that. I liked the idea of a huge city, but I had read somewhere that it was easily over 30,000 a year. I also just didn't think I was mature enough to really live in a huge city, much less that I could afford it. I had never been on a public bus before I went to college. I could just see it ending badly. So I didn't even bother applying.
In any case, I got word back from Penn State that I was deferred to a satellite campus, but Ohio State did everything but take me in 2001. So my choices were to be in a pretty large town with from what I had seen on the internet, a very active gay community, or go out into the middle of nowhere for a year or two, and maybe if I were lucky go to the central campus. I was a buckeye by November.
Another great shot of relief in my life was that I had an awesome guidance counselor. She checked up on everything for me, and was always asking me questions about thing. She was the gym teacher as well, and although I had my suspicions about her being a lesbian, I cannot say if it's the case. If she was, I think I pinged her gaydar. If not, I think she just realized how miserable I was. She also helped me with all the paperwork, and convincing my mother, to let me do Post-Secondary Enrollment.
Yes, that year was awesome, and nothing was better than finally living my dream. I came in for my morning German class at 8:30, and I got to leave at 9:15. I took college courses for the rest of the morning, until I came back for English class at 1pm. (Truthfully, it was a waste of time and I should have just taken a college level English course. I learned nothing in that class.) I went from there to Government (another waste of time mandated by the state of Ohio, and finally band for the end of the day at 3:15.
I had also been working up the courage to talk with other guys. Now, we had gotten internet when I was 14, but I had been terrified to talk with other guys. I was always worried that someday, my big secret would be revealed. I was living a double life in Defiance. During the day I was majorly geeky straight guy. But the afternoons and nights that I didn't have band, I was majorly geeky gay guy. Quelle différence, non? So before, I used to talk with a few guys on ICQ and I had a PlanetOut account since I was 15. I never had a picture up, and didn't start talking with guys on there until 2001. It was great to talk though, and know I wasn't the only one. Finally, spending a majority of my day at college, I could possibly meet other guys.
So I set up to meet this guy who had graduated the year before me from a nearby high school and he was currently a student at the same college. He and I got along, we were both computer science majors, and he was alive. Three excellent arguments for meeting him. We said we'd meet in the main atrium around 11, and we'd go have breakfast together. I was all excited, and I was nervous. 11 came, and went. No guy showed up.... So I guess we live and learn. I never met any other guys in person before starting college. I did make a few attempts. Nothing ever became of it.
I had finally come to accept myself for who I was. However, I'd never said it out loud.