Oh, how I miss college
The day I graduated from college was one of the happiest of my life. It wasn't so much out of a sense of completion, of achieving a life goal. It was much more basic—I was finally leaving.
No more all-nighters spent at the nearby open-all-night pancake house, trying to figure out the difference between a rock and a mineral. No more semester projects begun the day before they were due and finished 15 minutes before class was to start. No more worries about whether the C I got on my Fundamentals of Math final (yes, math was a tough one for me) would be enough to pass me out of the class.
I was finally free.
It's been 12 years since I slid my purple and white tassel to the left, and I've never looked back. My only connection to the place that was home and hell had been the monthly loan statement I consistently received (and still do).
But recently that has changed.
I'm homesick for college.
I look back and remember the all-nighters spent at the 24-hour pancake house only pretending to study, the nights spent goofing around with my friends, thinking about that semester project I really should start—but that I'll certainly start tomorrow.
I even giggle about my performance as a young Evita in my musical theater class, where I pranced around the stage with a suitcase. My prof told me he hated the performance so much that he passed me so I would never have to take his class again.
Oh, how I miss college.
I find as I get older and the gap widens between my undergrad experience and me, I feel more connected to my alma mater. I follow the football team and I even fly a TCU flag outside my home. The person I was a dozen years ago would never recognize the person I am today.
I kind of bleed purple—and I like it.
I still have those nightmares where I realize on the day of the final exam that I never attended math class. But now I think that if I could, I would choose to make that nightmare come true if it meant going back to college and living the good times all over again. Maybe.
Or maybe I don't have to. I work at a university, and with an office at the Main Campus, I'm fully immersed in the culture, the life, the rhythm of the place. I've discovered that I don't have to travel hundreds of miles to my alma mater just to experience school pride.
Here, everywhere I look, I see orange and blue shirts. As I pass through the John Peace Library, I see students clustered in study rooms, challenging each other and then laughing it off when the stress gets too high.
I love having lunch under the Sombrilla, where the sounds of diverse cultures mingle. As students at one table play my favorite '80s songs, students at another table speak with animation in a language I wish I knew, because it really sounds like they're having fun.
Students on skateboards whiz by. Couples hold hands on the way to class. I hear snatches of conversation about physics and the most recent football game. And I feel so much pride; I feel so connected.
I feel the energy that comes from being on a thriving college campus.
So maybe I am reliving my college days after all, but in an even better way. There are only deadlines, no exams. Even better, there's very little math.
And my closet is becoming crowded with all the orange and blue shirts and paraphernalia I am accumulating. I take my sons to football games, and every one of us has our special game-day shirt. We regularly chant "Go 'Runners" and even my 3-year-old knows the Roadrunner hand sign.
So, maybe I bleed orange and blue, as well as purple.
I think I need to buy another flag.
NOW & THEN
Jean Schnitz, former president of the Texas Folklore Society, has performed at the annual Texas Folklife Festival since 1981. The festival, held at the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, marked its 41st anniversary this summer.
ON THE BACKGROUND
A close look at the frieze, or decorative band, on El Castillo in Xunantunich, Belize. El Castillo is the second largest structure in ancient and modern Belize.