A couple weeks ago I went to the University of Scranton to accept an award they were giving my father, a graduate of the school, to recognize his achievements in the field of community service. I was - and am - really proud of him for getting the award, which he undoubtedly deserves. And I also felt that this awards ceremony - part of their alumni weekend - was a big deal at the university. Those are two of the reasons I went. But also, I knew it would be fun. Everyone, including my father and my contact at the school, was so appreciative that I'd even consider driving all the way there (it's only three hours away), taking time out of my busy life to do this, and I was like, "Listen, you want me to attend some cocktail parties, talk to strangers and make a speech? All of my favorite things, while getting some alone time and not changing any diapers? Don't thank me. I'm thanking you."
As I'd expected, the whole thing was so much fun. J unfortunately couldn't come with me, but from the minute I arrived at the beautiful campus I felt like I was surrounded by friends. Each award recipient was greeted by an undergraduate who helped get us from location to location and answered any questions we might have. My undergraduate, Ashley (hi Ashley!!), was incredibly cheerful, interesting and was doing amazing things with her education and life.
At one point Ashley asked me if I missed college, and I told her that I missed some things. For instance, I said, I miss my English and philosophy classes - all that talking in depth about the great works that you just don't get in the real world. I told her that I could, I suppose, join a book club, but that nobody would want to join a book club that had the works of Kant on the roster. Because she's awesome, Ashley told me that she'd join that book club.
But then I explained that, truthfully, I don't miss college in the sense that it was the best time of my life. It wasn't. It was a really, really great part in my life. I loved every second of my time at Boston University. The school was huge, which was exactly what I'd wanted. I made a small group of tight knit friends, friends I made amazing memories with, although some days I'd get lost in the crowds on my way to this class or that and barely see anyone I knew. I loved the occasional feeling of anonymity after going to such a small high school. I loved the city of Boston and all it had to offer, and I loved my classes and professors. Except not Irish history. That was a huge mistake.
However, I told her, my life has gotten so much better since then. So I don't long for my college days. I like things the way they are now.
Anyway, I went on to have a wonderful night, meeting many accomplished people, including several members of class of 1960, who were there for alumni weekend, and who I was seated with for dinner in my father's place. We talked feminism, religion and politics.
When the night was over, I went to my dorm room. That's right, my dorm room.
The University of Scranton graciously offered me a dorm room, as I was staying the night and driving back in the morning. Others who'd traveled to be there were doing the same. Mine was a resident advisor's room, with its own bathroom, but it was a dorm room, alright, complete with an extra long twin bed, desk and reading lamp. I'd been looking forward to the experience, but I must admit it was a little lonely once I'd settled in. Uncharacteristically quiet for a dorm since it was summer break, even as others trickled in to their own rooms throughout the night. I made my bed and switched on the lamp and read for a while before falling asleep at a very decent hour. I couldn't help thinking about how it was such a difference experience than that of my actual dorm room years at BU. No late night pizza? No mini fridge full of illegally-attained beer? No music blaring? Nobody laughing or crying or or having a party?
When I awoke the next morning it was raining. I gathered all my things together, showered and made my way downstairs to the lobby. While I was waiting for the elevator, I noticed the communal kitchen, very similar to the one we had in my freshman dorm, except that this one was much newer and nicer looking.
In the lobby I very happily discovered carafes of coffee provided for the overnight visitors. I made myself a cup and lingered for a few minutes, watching the rain outside. I don't know why, but I started thinking about that kitchen and all the funny things that probably happen in there. Dinners that get burnt and board games played. Maybe some studying, maybe some drinking. Probably some making out. I started thinking about my own dorm experience and how people used to put hats on the doors as a hook-up warning for their roommates. I thought about the time it snowed four feet unexpectedly in April and classes were canceled. We ate junk food and played outside. I thought about when my roommate made a "beer angel" in the hallway one night by lying on her back and moving her arms and legs through her spilled drink. I thought about how the boys used to wreak havoc and play pranks on their floor, often shirtless, and how it was kind of scary to go down there. About how all my friends were right there, and we left the door open all the time.
All of a sudden I missed college so much. So much, and I realized that I just needed the proper inspiration to arouse those emotions. So Ashley, I revise my answer. My life has gotten so much better since I was an English major at Boston University, but I do miss college, and I miss more than the classes and the academic discussions. I miss all the insanity and fearlessness. I miss the antics and the major life moments, and living so close to all my new friends.
And, although one night was certainly enough for a while, I even miss the dorm rooms. Doors open. Music loud.