It’s been a long time coming but recent events have pulled me back into writing a little bit. I have just completed a move of my daughter back up to App State for grad school and many of my friends have been posting on Facebook about taking their freshmen sons and daughters off to college so of course, that led me to thinking about my college days. So here we go….
It was August 1977. High school was over, I had said good bye to the love of my life for the first of many times… and I was off to college. To summarize my college experience, I can’t say that it was some of the best years of my life. I know that many people found the experience to be the best and that they would go back to those days in a minute. I wouldn’t… well, let me qualify that a little bit… there are some specific days and some relationships that I cherish deeply. It’s just that this particular time in my life was extremely difficult for me.
I like to tell people that it was all I could do to figure out how to cram 4 years of college into 6 years… but somehow I did finally get through it. But let’s go back to the beginning of it all.
I never will forget sleeping in the back seat of my parent’s station wagon as my dad drove the 4 plus hours between Elizabeth City and Fayetteville. I look back on those days and laugh about how little “stuff” I had… and that every single bit of it was crammed into that one vehicle. That whole first weekend as school was very surreal to me. I was really numb to the whole registration, moving in to Sanford Dorm and going through the paces of being a freshman. I met a lot of new people from lots of different places. My roommate and I seem to hit it off pretty good so I’m thinking things are going to be okay… but still there was this gnawing at the pit of my stomach. I just couldn’t figure it out.
I struggle with classes, the love of my life (that I had seen and spent time with every day for the last 2 years) being away at a different school, a stretch of time on crutches (I’ll come back to that), and just general depression with being gone from everything familiar and that I truly loved.
But then there was a group of friends that I made… a rather strange group with different personalities from all over the place. For some reason I connected with this group. We were all freshmen, trying to find our way and were just somehow drawn to each other. In particular there was this one girl that I felt a true comfort with… a real kinship if you will. I can’t tell you when we started hanging out or how it happened… she was just there. We spent so many hours together… just sitting and talking… I shared stories of my struggles with school… with my roommate… with missing home and all the things that brought me comfort there… with all that boy / girl stuff that we all dealt with at one time or another… That relationship was a true lifeline for me.
I’m not quite certain how this relationship changed but I am pretty sure it was me… the confusion and frustration and fears of that time caused me to be very irrational in my behavior, not just with her but with everyone in that group. I don’t know if we just drifted apart or if I did something really boneheaded, which I was apt to do, but in any case, we just kinda went our separate ways.
I read somewhere recently that one of the things they don’t tell you when you go off to college is that the original friends you make when you first get there aren’t the ones you usually keep. I can see that as the case here. But I can tell you this much… I do think about that relationship often… and how much it meant to me back then… and how I don’t know how I would have survived without it… and it still makes me smile.