Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

I just want to preface this by saying that if you're not a fan of lengthy stories then this isn't the one for you. This is a long one (that's what she said).

My mind was wandering tonight (as it is prone to do) and I started thinking back to my college days. I thought back to those carefree times when all I had to worry about was finishing a paper before the deadline, picking a bar to drink at for the night, and choosing which cool post-ironic tee I was going to wear to class that day.

But you know what? I don't miss it.

A lot of people wish they were back in college. They talk about the past as if it is some mystical treasure that they had in their hands but let slip out of their grasp. Perhaps it's a desire to go back to a time when they could shirk real responsibility and the real world in general. Actually, strike that; there's no "perhaps" about it; when your only true goal for 4 years is to get laid as often as possible, life is admittedly pretty sweet.

I'm wondering what makes some people turn the corner and be ok with their post-college lives while others can't let go. Or better yet, even if a person's post-college life sucks, at what point did they simply outgrow that part of their life? Is it a gradual fading for some people or does it hit everyone all at once? Personally, I can actually pinpoint the exact night I graduated from missing college.

It was a couple of years after I graduated from UMass. I'd been living with Kristen in Salem and that clearly wasn't going well, so I moved back home in October of 2005. A couple of weeks after that I was invited out by a couple of college friends who were still living in Amherst. I made plans to stay with a friend for the evening as she had an extra futon.

Anyway, so I go out there for the evening and meet up with these people at a downtown bar. We have a great time, we're drinking and laughing, and as the night goes on I start to feel really old. I was only 24 at the time but there was something about seeing freshmen and sophomores with fake IDs drinking at the stools next to us that really unnerved me. It was as if I was some creepy old man who'd wandered into Super Happy Fun Toddler Story Land and all that was missing was some terrifying representation of the sun with a baby's face protruding out of it.

Eventually my friends and I wandered Main Street, sampling the many different bars that Amherst has to offer. The group of us got split up and went separate ways. Once we'd had our fill of booze I called my friend with the futon to make sure she was back at her place. No answer on her cell.

I called her apartment. Still nothing. I called the cell of a mutual guy friend who had also been out with us and was with her group at the time. Nothing.

Ok then, I thought to myself, I guess I'll just drive over to her place and wait for her there. So I drove.

I reached her place at around 2:30 in the morning. I knocked on her door, but got nothing. The lights were out and it didn't look like anyone was home.

Fair enough, I thought; she might be dropping people off and then coming home. I walked back to my car since it was a bit chilly outside. And I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

(Sorry for the shitty, predictable, Plaschke-like narrative; it'll be over soon, I promise.)

I fell asleep in my cold car waiting for her to get back to her apartment. At 4am I was awaken by the sound of a door slamming. I looked out my window to see her kitchen light go on. I made a break for her place and knocked frantically. After some hushed whispers and about 30 seconds of waiting, the door opened.

She looked surprised to see me. So did my mutual guy friend, who at this point had removed his shirt and was sitting on the futon. The same futon I was supposed to have been uncomfortably lying on hours before while I'd be trying in vain to sleep.

Awareness of the situation eventually dawned on her when I asked where she'd been. Of course I didn't need to ask that question; my intuition told me there was a back seat involved at some point. She took me out into the hall and explained to me that I wouldn't be able to stay at her place that night because she had "company". I lost my shit at that point and not-so-calmly explained to her that I was supposed to be her company this evening. (Although not in the same sense, of course - I just wanted to lay on that filthy futon for a while.)

She shrugged, apologized, and let me in to get my stuff from the living room. On the way out, I stared daggers at our "mutual friend" who had dicked me over in order to dick her over. I walked out into the nippy air, put my stuff in my car, and thought things through.

It was 4:30 am at this point; what were my options? I could call someone else who most likely wouldn't be awake and might be pissed I called them at such a late hour. I could try sleeping in my car for a couple of hours and then head home. I could kill my friend and her fuck-buddy and make it look like a lovers' quarrel followed by a murder-suicide.

None of those really appealed to me. Well, one of them did but I dislike the idea of 40 years of forced buttsex behind bars. So I started my car and headed back east. I spent the next 2 hours on the road trying to stay awake. I cranked Pantera's Far Beyond Driven followed by System of a Down's Toxicity. I rolled the windows down and sang along to every song, straining to keep my eyes open.

I made it home at about 6:30am. I pulled into the driveway, stumbled out of my car, and willed my body inside. My dad was about to leave for work as I was walking in the door.

"Rough night?"
"Don't want to talk about it. Going to bed. Hold my calls. Good night."

Except it came out as "Donwannatalkboutitgoinbedholdcallnight".

I woke up that afternoon with the realization that I'd simply outgrown college. It was a sad feeling, but in a way it was completely liberating. I didn't have to worry anymore that I'd let something good slip away. I'd lived that life and now I was ready to live the next part of it. Out of despair, hope.

The great memories of college will always be in my heart and mind. Those were some of the happiest days of my life. I refuse to live the rest of my days with the mindset that it's all downhill after graduation day. There are always new milestones and new memories and new people. There is always an adventure to take part in, one whose lasting impression will not rub out the experiences I had at UMass but will enhance and expand upon them.

Growing up doesn't kill the old you; it just makes the old you better.

So, that's it. Just had to get that written down somewhere.

Now comes the question and answer portion: when did you outgrow college? Have you outgrown college? If so, was it a slow fade or an epiphany? If not, why not? I'm interested to know, I really am.

Good night, everyone.

1 comment:

Leanne said...

Hey Andy :) I found your blog link through Facebook, and love reading it. I miss your old livejournal!

I hear you on outgrowing college. Parts of me think that happened around second semester of junior year, after being in a shitty quasi-relationship for more than 2 years and battling with anxiety because of it (and other things). I felt claustrophobic at UMass, and like I KNEW there was something better to come. And I was totally, 100% right.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love backyard bbqs where flipcup and laughing abounds. I enjoy heading out to bars with friends, and even on occasion getting sloppy. But the things that give me real joy in life are feeling successful in my career, owning a home, having an awesome husband to come home to. I actually LOVE hosting dinner parties, or spending a relaxing Friday night in.

Sure, the college years were great. But there's a LOT to say for feeling secure in your life and who you are, having people depend on you because they know they can, and not having to scout out potential "company" at the local dive bar.

It keeps getting better.

PS - Enjoying the parade crowd out your new office? Ridiculous! I'm on 19, office 1908. Come visit.