|After crossing Guadalupe and walking onto the UT campus two Saturdays ago, I encountered a peculiar feeling that felt delightfully new. I had gone moreso as a favor to accompany friends in town, but the visit surprisingly unfolded to be for me, too.|
To be honest, when people have said in past that they loved college, I'm not sure if I exactly leveled with them at the same degree of emotional attachment. I loved it, but didn't often long for the nostalgia of wanting to go back. Part of that may be thanks to that I truly do appreciate where I am now, but there was an abundance of moments where I felt like I lived vicariously through others who were doing more daring, exciting things.
While standing on campus, college in its all-encompassing entirety seemed impossible to detail in four years of emotional growth (although it would be quite a feat). Each location was so familiar and so specific and special. A building with a beautiful library where I accidentally didn't hear a fire drill. The study lobby where a friend introduced me to Vampire Weekend on her iPod Nano. The dining hall where I was afraid to run into someone I was mad at. The gym where I lifted weights (and why did I do that?). The shelves deep in the library tower, where I was always surprised to see other people sitting in, too.
There are few times now when it wouldn't be weird to spend 95% of your time with your best friends. There are little opportunities to share snacks with people you hardly know over all-nighters in your rattiest hoodies. There are less, if any, occasions to scramble for dates to formals or dodge flyers soon to be shoved into your face while you carried books and a computer in your backpack. And really, there's no more need to spend hours nurturing clubs in return for short lines on your resumes.
Could you explain to another the bike rides into the night? The numerous basic ways you've seen dorm rooms decorated, the friend circles and pointless apartment hangs after riding many a stuffy elevator, and the house parties that you held as well as crashed?
Perhaps there are more grown-up equivalents of these (stories for another time), but what I didn't realize is that the value of my college memories had been silently multiplying within the university's absence from my life, and I hadn't even noticed.
These four years of knowledge, all kinds, had resurfaced as a treasure that I had forgotten I had even buried away at one point. The discovery felt surprisingly, magical. And new. On top of that, there was extra value because of the time that had passed. Every past moment of relaxing on the six-pack lawn was always shrouded in the shadow of a looming class to rush to or an upcoming test. Last weekend, however, neither was present, the fountain flowing blue and steadily. While sitting on this shaded patch of the itchy six-pack lawn next to my jelly sandals and friends taking pictures, I understood.
Could you explain your whole college experience to someone, the entire range of emotions? Likely not in full. And would you want to? It would take a lifetime.
My time in college had become very dear to me, and I can say that I genuinely really do love what UT means to me now--momentous since those days I would just long to be at the next stage. With an appreciation through seeing what is now in retrospect, I feel like I have gained clarity on quite a pivotal time of my life and how it fits in overall with where I am now.
I hope we are not so blinded by wanting to be in the future that we neglect where we are now, and I hope that we all, at some point, feel pleasantly surprised by things that we may have forgotten.
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