Before I left my childhood home for college and the lights of the big city that so inevitably accompany the experience, a well-meaning relative pulled me aside, pressing a fifty dollar bill into my palm and imparting some well-chosen words of wisdom. "Have fun at college," he quipped cheerfully. "Make some good friends there. College is where you find the people who'll stay true to you. It's where you'll find the truth about who you can be."

The truth is - and I say the word 'truth' with as much hesitation as I can muster, given the circumstances that came afterward - I did learn these things. The journey of uncovering myself, without a doubt, took place in the shining city of promises and wonder. So too did the discovery of friendships.

Neither pilgrimage took place in college, however. The plain and simple honesty of it was that I learnt almost nothing from the actual college experience. Everything that came afterward, that threw my life into an uncertainty I had never before imagined, took place in a totally different scene. The strangest stories, after all, can sometimes turn out to be true, and mine, in the end, was no exception. I did not know, as I stepped into the city where I was to spend my next few years, that my belief in the world, and in myself, would be tested to such an extent, far beyond the grasp of my mortal imagination.