I drove home from Hutchinson last night (well, actually this morning, if you want to be technical) with a kitten sleeping on my lap and Springsteen on the stereo.

The cat stayed asleep, and although I’m traditionally a dog person, any animal who falls asleep to The Boss gets an instant vote of cool in my book.

The kitten (dubbed Annoying Customer-AC for short-after a line in the film “Clerks”) was a homeless one that had somehow wandered into the backyard of Patrick McCreary, former mayor of Hutchinson, professional Abraham Lincoln impersonator, theater director and close friend.

Area residents might remember McCreary from the speech he gave for the Hillsboro Historical Society annual dinner several months ago.

I brought the kitten home on a whim, since no one else could take it.

I had been planning to cut back this semester on the number of weekends I went home-the transmission on my Taurus has been doing weird things, and I thought that I should probably at least attempt to hold a job when I wasn’t in class (not that sitting through some of my classes isn’t a job in itself).

However, three-day weekends are somewhat of an exception. I get to see friends from high school who have come back as well, and usually I can con my father into doing several loads of laundry for me before I return to Manhattan.

This weekend, however, I had to attend Patrick’s going-away party at the theater he helped found. After more than 10 years directing plays and musicals at the Family Children’s Theater and involving himself with public service, he’s returning to Principia University in Illinois to complete his master’s degree, as well as working as technical director for the university’s theater department.

Although Hutchinson will be worse off for having lost him-I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who fit the description “public servant” so accurately or willingly-I applaud him for knowing when to move on.

I’m going to refrain from making this into another tribute column, although if anyone else deserved one, it would be Patrick. Instead, I’m thinking about transition-whether in the form of a move, or the shift from high school to college, or merely the imperceptible ones that we face daily.

Returning to college this semester, I felt an odd mix of deja-vu and naivete-I fell into the patterns I had developed last semester (i.e, write until 4 a.m., wake at 10:15, be at class at 10:30, return from class at 12:40, take nap). But the whole process had this odd feeling of doing it (again) for the first time, possibly because my friends from high school were now going through it with me, and we’re able to share stories about dorm living, psychotic, embittered professors, frat parties and the sorority chicks who turned out to have boyfriends.

K-State seems almost new again, despite the occasional flashes of “been-there-done-that” (and yes, I realize that sentence was sort of a contradiction in terms).

Gone are the Physics/Sociology lecture halls, the boredom of Expos 101. Instead, I have the spacious auditorium for my Fundamentals of Acting course, the sense of indignation as I listen to my fiction instructor deem genre fiction-sci-fi/fantasy/romance/suspense, etc.-to not be “literary.” His definition is the rooted-in-reality, self-conscious look-at-me-I’m-an-important-author prose of writers like Cormac McCarthy or John Irving.

Gone is the solitude and privacy of a single dorm room due to extreme space constraints (it’s at the point where they’re providing housing in the dorm basements), no single rooms were available.

This year, I have a roommate. Hopefully he’ll bring back his Playstation 2 this weekend like he said he would.

And (mostly) gone are the feelings of depression and wheel-spinning that plagued me for as long as I can remember.

I’m being more creatively productive than I ever have, from acting in K-State’s production of “The Crucible” to beginning work on a screenplay and discussing with my friend Bob ways to finance production after I finish it, to completing the last set of rewrites on a novel that my fiction teacher would probably view as unliterary trash. (They say the same about Stephen King and John Grisham, so I’m not worried).

And productivity has a way of grounding you, focusing you, and reminding you who you are.

For, as a certain former mayor and Lincoln impersonator once told me, depression is a transitory state.

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