Last night I slept in a freshman college dorm room, lol. I’m 24…so that makes me pretty cool, right?
Actually, I feel like a fraud. I was brushing my teeth in the community bathroom last night, and some girls walked in and I almost yelled “I DON’T REALLY GO HERE! I’M NOT A FRESHMAN!” I figured they wanted to be my friend. And then I thought about how I’m six years older than them, and that freaked me out.
I’m here because I drove my sister to college, and I decided to stay the night with her because her roommate wasn’t coming until today. I went to this college, and it was so weird coming back. I had never wanted to come to this school in the first place, but during my four years here I fell head over heals in love.
It was exactly six years ago to this day that I moved away from my parents in central Ohio and started my new life as a college student two and a half hours away. When I was showing my sister around campus yesterday all these forgotten memories came flooding back. I told her about my first college crush – a sophomore in my sociology class. I used to spend every Monday night staring at him and thinking he was so smart. Then he asked for my screen name, which led to me going over to his fraternity house to watch a movie, which led him to ask “Will you date me?” which led me to say yes, even though I didn’t want to. I ended it online later that night. And still it remains the longest relationship I’ve ever had.
I remember when a guy I worked with at Subway came over to my dorm room in the middle of the night. He was drunk and he told me he wanted to kiss me because I was tanner than other girls. He had a point..and yet I refused.
I remember when my roommate and I would crank up the heat in our room, and do our homework in our bathing suits, or that time we blew the fuse because we had too many electronics plugged in.
I remember how awkward it was those first few weeks of college, when you don’t really know anyone and you are trying to recall how to make friends. After my sister’s hall meeting last night, she came back into her dorm room and sat on her bed. Eventually I coaxed her to go hang out with a roomful of girls down the hall. I felt like a mother sending her baby sheep into a herd of wolves, but I knew it would be best if she bonded with the girls right away – when they’re all awkward and vulnerable. To my delight she came back five minutes later and told me she was going to a hookah bar with them. She didn’t come back until 2 a.m.; I was thrilled.
She strolled in when I was half asleep and told me she met a girl who was her twin – they looked alike and had the same personality and everyone in the group was already getting them confused for each other. I smiled and remembered my twin, my saving Grace. We were friends the moment we met (“Hi, I’m Hope.” “Really? I’m Grace!”) We had similar appearances and personalities, and as time went on everyone thought we had been friends since childhood, when in fact we had been friends for maybe two weeks.
There’s something so weird about coming back to a place that used to be home, and discovering that everything has changed. Life in Toledo has continued even though I thought it would stop when I left. The people I knew and loved have moved away, the buildings have been improved, the seasons have come and gone and I wasn’t here for them.
Some things have remained the same, and when I discover them my heart never ceases to flutter. I’m at my favorite coffee shop right now – the Beaners on the corner of Secor and Central. I came here for so many reasons during my years at Toledo – to cram for an exam, to write a column, to hang out with friends or to go on a date with a boy. I was familiar with all the other people who also frequently studied or hung out at Beaners, including the elderly lady who looks strikingly similar to the crazy meatball loving lady in The Wedding Singer. Crazy-meatball-look-alike lady was ALWAYS here – she tutored high school kids.
When I walked in today I saw her, and the sight of something familiar made my heart flutter. I guess some things never change.
In the past month I’ve visited many of the places that have had significant impact on my life – the camp I worked at in the mountains of California, my high school dance studio, my life in Nashville, my Alama Mater…
The same feelings have always ensued: a rush of forgotten memories followed by a strong sense of nostalgia, which is then trumped by the realization that I wouldn’t be where I am now if I had never left.
And thus continues the contradiction of my life.
“You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your shit, that idea of home is gone. You’ll see one day when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it’s gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It’s like you feel homesick for a place that doesn’t even exist.” – Garden State