College, Not Death
This time last year, my sister was getting ready to leave for college for the first time. She was trying very hard to enjoy our family vacation, despite her alternating feelings of borderline-manic excitement and pure panic. She cried almost every night. She Facebook-messaged her roommate and desperately guessed at what it would be like to live in a dorm. She wondered at how different her life would be in just a few weeks.
Five years ago, Julie and I were getting ready to leave for college for the first time. We weren’t best friends yet, but we were acquaintances who texted sometimes, and both of us were on the verge of spontaneous combustion. We alternated between borderline-manic excitement and pure panic. We’d found the Wildcat together at orientation, but neither of us even had our finalized room assignments yet. We desperately tried to imagine who we would meet, what we would learn, how we would change.
This is the first post I ever wrote for Hannah & Julie – originally published on September 2, 2013. Since then, this has become a kind of mantra for all the next chapters we approach with that familiar cocktail of excitement and fear. Study Abroad, not death. Grad school, not death. Graduation, not death. The anticipation is always the hardest part.
And that’s why this week’s post is dedicated to all my peeps in the Class of 2020. Only a few more weeks until you’re just doin’ the thing, and you won’t have to sit around think about it anymore. Read on if you’re so excited you could just laugh/cry/puke.
Also, shout-out to Meg & Julie for the post-skydiving picture above. Even if this was the only thing to come out of our college careers, it probably would’ve been worth it.
The week before my freshman year in college, I felt a lot like I was getting ready to die. It was a melodramatic thought, and of course I knew I wasn’t actually dying; I was just moving to college. And college was going to be awesome. It was going to be magical. It was going to be so much better than high school. It seemed like everyone I talked to was reading from the same script. When do you move in? That’s great. Are you excited? Of course you are. Best days of your life, kid.
But my childhood bedroom looked so bare! No clothes in the drawers, no papers on my desk. My favorite ski poster (LIFE IS MORE THAN A SPECTATOR SPORT!) was rolled and packed up in one of the bins my mom had bought at Target. It was like I’d already gone. And my friends– every day brought a new teary goodbye, a tight hug that ended with see you at Thanksgiving! but felt like see you on the other side. My mom and my sister couldn’t walk past my emptied bedroom without giving me a quick hug. We’re really gonna miss you, you know. I wrote delightfully angsty poems, I listened to weepy indie music. The whole shebang had an undeniable feeling of impending doom.
But on a sunny Friday in late August, I moved in to my first college dorm room, and – this is important – I didn’t die. I unpacked my posters, introduced myself to my roommates, and spent the next few months trying to 1) refrain from quoting offensive comedians to easily offended people, and 2) figure out what to do with my hands to make me appear approachable yet mysterious. (On my hips? Relaxed by my sides? One on a hip one relaxed? So many options.) Everything was new and exciting and surreal and sometimes a little bit lonely, but it was so college. I played frisbee on the quad and wore my Dave Matthews Band t-shirt. I also started hanging out with this girl from my high school named Julie. She was cool, I guess.
By October, the loneliness had faded, and my mom only called me every other day. By Christmas break, I didn’t even want to leave campus. Julie and I madesome awesome friends, we joined a few clubs, and we figured out which foods in the dining hall make you extra gassy. (Broccoli. Always broccoli.) We did our homework and made a lot of fart jokes.
Now we’re sophomores, and I am happy to say that this year’s move-in day did absolutely nothing to remind me of my own funeral. The campus was familiar and beckoning! My friends were within walking distance again! My mom jumped for joy as she remembered how low the grocery bill dips when I leave the house! It was a celebration for everyone, really.
So college is pretty awesome. Adults everywhere are still constantly telling us that these are the best days of our lives, we need to enjoy it while we can. (I wish they’d stop telling us this because it’s really kind of depressing. Maybe I’ll win the lottery in a few decades and retirement will be the best days of my life. You never know.) But we do plan on enjoying college while we can, and telling you about it as we go along. Because I promise, it’s not all frisbee and kegs. (Well, it’s probably a lot more frisbee and kegs than you’d find anywhere else, but still, there’s a lot more to see here.) Whether you’re looking forward to going to college, currently in college, or wistfully looking back on those days of frat basement glory, this blog is totally for you. And if you’re not doing any of those things, you should still read our thoughts, because we’ll probably be making more fart jokes every now and again. (Seriously, who doesn’t love a good fart joke?)
We’ll be posting every Monday, so come on over and we’ll do our best to entertain you. Even if you’re not entertained in the least, maybe send this blog to your best friend or your Uncle Norman or that nerdy kid in your Biology class who mutters Harry Potter spells under his breath. There’s a good chance he and I would get along.