The year was 2003, a time when 50 Cent and the Ying Yang Twins ruled the Billboard charts. The place was Gainesville, Florida, a town where college dreams are made. Well, mine were at least. I showed up early to take summer classes and get a taste of independence. It was absolutely amazing. I could do whatever I wanted—assuming I made passing grades and didn’t get arrested. My first act of freedom brought me to the tattoo shop downtown, where I paid actual money to have a silver loop stapled into my left eyebrow. Rebellious, right? In all fairness, face jewels were marginally cool back then. And I ripped the thing out after just four days, when it started to itch.

Independence is one hell of a drug.

My four years ...

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