Tuesday, July 14, 2009

College, Part One

I was just sitting here flipping through the television channels and saw Heaven Can Wait on one of the cable listings, and that made me think about the song of the same name by Meat Loaf, off the Bat Out of Hell album (that title has always seemed so much more heavy metal than the album is -- Meat Loaf is pure power pop rock all the way). And that made me think of college, because freshman year of college, that album was a big thing with our crowd. And I remembered how sometimes, my girls and I would just sit around in someone's room on a Monday afternoon and listen to melancholy songs, like "Heaven Can Wait" and "Two Out of Three" by Meat Loaf, and the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want," and "Yesterday" and "In My Life" by the Beatles. Our friend Jers was always making mix tapes -- you'd get one if he liked you. I had a huge crush on Jers for most of the year but never told anyone because he was first way into this one girl named Kimmie, and then he was way into our friend Lara, and I knew I didn't stand a chance. Anyway, it's better that we just remained friends, because we're still friends now and he doesn't speak to any of them. And I still have the five mix tapes he made for me over the years, even though they don't even work any more. He was my Secret Santa freshman year, and made me an awesome John Lennon tape.

Anyway, I was thinking about how big of a deal every little thing was back then. Is it the age? I guess it must be. The age, and the experience of being at college. College for me, and for most of my friends, was our first time away from home, our first taste of freedom, our first chance to make real choices, and either succeed or fuck up. Sometimes both. I loved almost every single minute of college. I was there for 4 years and one semester, and I can count on one hand the times that were so painful I hated being there; the rest of it was like magic. I had all these amazing friends I never would have made if I hadn't gone... even the boyfriend I hated by the time I graduated, I can kind of think of fondly now, like he was just a mild pain in the ass. In reality, he ripped out my heart and then stomped on it outside a packed bar at closing time, in front of everyone I knew, and I spent several months dreaming of ways I could kill him inside too. Eventually I figured out that he just didn't care, and the whole thing was pointless, and by that time I was ready to move on.

Everything was such a huge deal that we would sit in someone's room in the late afternoon as the sun began to set over the mountains, no lights on, no talking, and we would just listen to music and remind ourselves to breathe. Eventually we'd go down to dinner with the whole crowd, and pretend everything was fine, and laugh and flirt and carry on... ours was always the loudest table in the dining hall, even louder than the table of kids who lived on the theatre program floor -- in fact I'm sure we pissed them off, since we had more drama and noise in our lives than they ever did. And yet I'm sure everything was a huge deal to them as well. They probably hated us.

We always had these amazing football parties in Jers and Corey's room. Lots of beer. And we played Powder Puff Football, all the girls, coached by a rather too large coaching staff drawn from the guys' side of the floor. We kept challenging other floors to play us but I guess we looked too professional, with our thrice weekly practices and large coaching staff, so in the end only two other floors took us on. We kicked ass, of course.

The first time I ever got really, really wasted was a Saturday night about two or three months into the fall semester, and everyone had gone home for the weekend or gone out for the evening, and I had planned to stay in because I had a choir concert the next morning. I got bored and wandered over to see what Ranya and Kimmie and Melissa were up to, and they were sitting in Rany's room with a huge jug of shitty Gallo wine, plastic cups and a big bottle of Sprite, making poor man's spritzers. I settled in to enjoy one, and eventually Kimmie, Melissa and I polished off that entire bottle of wine, and then set about stumbling all over the dorm to "meet people." At one point we thought it would be a good idea to try to get onto the roof of the 12-story building; luckily it was kept padlocked due to a couple of suicides back in the 1970s. The next morning I had to get up really early for the choir concert, and as I was getting dressed in my bedroom, I realized I was about to vomit. I threw my robe back on and was on the point of walking out the door to rush to the restroom when I spewed all over the floor of my room. Eventually this incident earned me the nickname "Interior Decorator," since all I had to clean the carpet with was Comet and it bleached it out, thus leaving a giant bleached spot on the carpet for the rest of the year.

Miserable, and yet I wouldn't have missed out on the getting wasted part even if someone told me for certain that I was going to get sick the next day. It was too amazing, feeling that bliss and doing the drunk bonding with the other girls. It's probably partly why I joined a sorority in my sophomore year... although that was really out of loneliness more than anything else.

I took a lot of Political Science classes, thinking I was going to major in Journalism with Poli Sci as my area of focus, but then I didn't pass the typing test to get into the Journalism school. So I switched over to English/Creative Writing the second semester. I had weird times in the English department up at CSU. No one was friends, really -- it was too competitive -- but eventually, sophomore year, I made a couple of friends in the department and we stuck together till graduation.

My gang of friends and I were heartbroken on the last day of that year, when we all had to separate for the summer. There's a photo of us all in my scrapbook and everyone's crying, but trying to smile through the tears. We'd been through a great deal together in a school year. It's powerful stuff, getting to know and care about people you might otherwise have nothing in common with. That's one of the biggest lessons you learn in college -- how to deal with people. How to live with them, how not to live with them. How to let go of small stuff. How to work together, even if it's on something as stupid as a parade float or a powder puff football team.

Incidentally, I played Center.


Heather said...

Wow, what a lengthy and thorough/heartwarming story of college! Interior Decorator -- nice. I bet none of those ppl would suspect you are a super neat freak now. There's no way you'd stand for a puke-stained carpet now! As a side note, Michael Jackson also recorded a song called Heaven Can Wait. I was listening to it the other day, and I totally teared up a lil bit thinking of his poor kids.

Georgias Maximus, Feline Esq. said...

It's August now as I read this, and there are young 'uns on my mind either heading to college as frosh or on the verge of going soon. This was a timely read. Thanks for sharing.

I always did think there was more learning in the halls and on the fields than in the classrooms, stuff commuter students miss out on.