Over the last few weeks, we’ve been saying goodbye to some of our young friends who are off to the first years of college. Near and far, they are starting their own adventures, next chapters, new beginnings, fresh paths, their next step on this funny little journey called life…you get it. The grown-ups in the room offer congratulations, good wishes, and “be safes.” But with as much wander as the kids have for the great unknown, the adults kind of nod knowingly at each other. We do generally have an idea of what’s in store for them.
This is where it changes. This is where they, ideally…hopefully….fingers crossed, start figuring it out. The parents of these kids surely want their kids to be happy and healthy. They want them to have fun, and be good, and get good grades, and then maybe they’ll get a great job, and not move home. And they want the kiddos to call. But not too much, because that can be a bad sign. They want them to call just the right amount.
We try not to share all of our college stories with these fresh hopeful faces. We can’t. Not yet. They have to live it first, and then they get to hear the good stuff. Who doesn’t wistfully look back at those days – a haze of fuzzy and romanticized memories of freedom, and possibilities and ordering pizza whenever you want to, and buying white bread instead of wheat for the first time, and other completely, um purposefully non-descript college stuff. Those precious last years of getting away with things just because you’re young.
Isn’t that why we’re all so flippin’ passionate about our alma mater football teams? We’re defending our life choices! Our history! Our heritage! Our memories. Those little boys out there are going to tell you that my memories and choices are meaningful and significant, by kicking the butt of your team and your memories. So hah!
Who doesn’t pine a little, and sit back like you’d imagine Wilford Brimley to, to spin a yarn about the good ol’ days, whether it was your freshman year of college, or your first time on your own?
Mine would go a little like this (please read this in Wilford Brimley’s voice – it’s better that way): Listen up kids….The second day I was at school I stuck a roommate’s head of raw broccoli in the freezer. I had never seen raw broccoli away from a salad bar and had no idea what to do with it. We found little tiny green bits all over our dorm for a year. She had to teach me how to use an ATM. My friend Liane & I would only use the computer lab at 3 in the morning. We were pretty inept with word processing, and that’s when the computer lab guys would be happy to come out from behind their ridiculously tall desk to help us. We may have also solicited help from a handsome classmate who was finishing his reporting assignment too.
We saw some great movies: Pulp Fiction, Singles, Reality Bites, Seven. Don’t ever see Seven kids, you won’t sleep for a week. That movie changed my mind about pursuing criminal science.
There was a short period of this nation’s history, where absolutely everyone in America, I mean EVERYONE, was wearing flannel, always the flannel – formal flannel and casual flannel – and Docs and Converse, and listening to grungy music and drinking coffee, and figuring out how they could get to Seattle. Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins… now that was music.
I had never had a Caesar salad. But Wolfgang Pucks was in our food court, and I had a Caesar salad every day until I ran out of discretionary funds on my meal card. And then there was just the sheer joy of being in a new place and having the chance to start fresh, and kick off your adult life your own way. I threw the curtain open from our fifth floor dorm living room and there it was, the Hollywood sign. I had arrived. Of course, if you looked out the other window, you could see the Bank of America that got robbed four times that year.
We’d lose our way sometimes, and get frustrated and make mistakes, and find our way back, and be smarter for it, most of the time. Times were good.
And that boy in the computer lab? Well, his name was John, and I would go on to marry that boy. (Ok, don’t read that like Wilford Brimley).
Good luck freshmen! I can’t wait to sit on the porch someday and hear your stories!