Wednesday, May 10

The End of Freshman Year

My grandparents came to pick me up from college a few days ago. Awfully decent of them when you consider that they made the 1500 mile trip in 20 hours of driving over two days. When they finally made it to campus on Monday afternoon, I was all over them as soon they got out of their car, hugging them, glad to see them. My parents had called two days earlier and suggested rather strongly that I take them walking all over the place, so they could stretch out a little and release their cramps. I was more than happy to comply. The first night, I gave them the walking tour of campus and took them to the off-campus gym where I practice kendo. The second night, we went downtown to eat and checked out the waterfall from all angles at multiple points along its path.

When I wasn’t with them or enjoying my last nights with my friends, I was thinking, reflecting. My first year of college was coming to an end. It was finals week and my grandparents weren’t there to hang out but to take me back to my hometown. Except for a few brief stretches, mostly around the time of Ann’s death, if you had asked me how I was enjoying college, as more than a few people did, I would answer that I was ‘mildly euphoric.’ In no way did I regret my choice in colleges. The people, the classes, the area; I enjoyed them all. Playing “Madden” and later “Fight Night” with my suitemates, roof hopping in winter, conversations that went until two in the morning, asking a girl out for the first time; there are so many memories that I never want to slip away.

Sure, there are things I wish hadn’t happened and things I’m disappointed didn’t happen, but I can still live with myself and know that I am capable of feeling feelings that I thought I had killed off.

Were I motivated solely by self-interest, I don’t see how my year at college could be seen as less than a success. I am a better person now than I was coming into it all. I am more comfortable in social situations and have learned to think better as I came against viewpoints that weren’t my own. I have been pushed like I ne’er was before in my classes and feel that, if I didn’t succeed, I certainly didn’t fall apart. At the beginning of the year, I was worried about how I’d deal with being away from my parents and their influence, but I think that I proved to myself that I can do better than muddle through without them. College has been a developmental time too.

Something else to consider too. My grandparents arriving on campus mark an intrusion of sorts, an intrusion into my college life. Not that is was such a big intrusion. They weren’t on campus long and didn’t have the opportunity to speak much with my friends. To a certain point, I expect most people experience this duality of lives between college and family. In my case, it’s a bit more clear, something that arises when you choose to go to a college so far from where you were raised. My friends at college and my friends from high school do not know each other. Except for a single instant messenger conversation, no one in one of these groups knows the members of the other. If I talk about my experiences with one to the other, they have to depend entirely on me. They lack the interaction to add their own thoughts in at all. My hometown and college lives are entirely separate. I don’t think I’m different in them, but the problem remains that they don’t connect. It kind of depresses me. It was my decision, though, and I’ll have to deal with it.

But it’s over now. I’m with my grandparents, driving back. People would ask me if I’m sad to be going back to my hometown. I answer, “It’s what happens. There are things I’m looking forward to and things I’ll miss.” The important thing it seems to me as I sit here is that I never let my experiences go. They happened to me and have meaning. They must never be lost.

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