Adult life means you can't hang out with your friends all day, every day. College meant exactly that - your friends were your roommates, your classmates, and your coworkers - sometimes all three at once. It's a lot easier to muddle through a long winter when you are up to your eyeballs in great people with whom to commiserate. All day. Every day. Winters in college just didn't seem as long as they do now. (I'd venture a guess that my 40-minute-one-way commute is mostly to blame for that.)
I am also nostalgic for college at this particular moment because adult life is WEIRD. In college, my number one stress was always homework and exams. What am I most stressed out about at this particular moment in my life? TAXES. LIKE A BORING ADULT. In college, freaking EVERYTHING was exciting - and a lot of it was stupid shit that was totally awesome but nothing you'd ever do now. My friends and I went on midnight bike rides to the mysterious west side of town. We hosted theme parties that involved the attendees decorating shirts in honor of Heath Ledger. We wrote newspaper articles about Crocs. We adopted dogs on a whim. (His name is Buddy, and he's the best.)
I don't do anything that ridiculous any more. My life is unquestionably full of good stuff, but my excitement bar has been far lowered. The other day, I was super psyched because the picture frames I ordered came in the mail. Read that last sentence again and just try to tell me that I'm not a boring adult.
As someone who is closing in on 30, I realize that it's not necessarily a bad thing that I do adult things like order picture frames online and wait anxiously for them to arrive. There comes a time when one must outgrow college behaviors: mostly, acting like the complete lunatic. And let's be honest: we are all lunatics, but after college, you're just supposed to hide it better.
I really shouldn't compare college life and adult life: it's apples and oranges for sure. But college was awesome: I had the best time, and I met the greatest people there (including my husband). UMM was straight-up amazing.
So here's what's happening after that rambling introduction. We've established that I love to take pictures, and I have a shit ton from college. I have chosen my five favorite photos from my freshman year, and I'm going to do the same for my sophomore, junior, and senior years. (I'm already concerned about how to narrow down the pictures from senior year... that was the BEST.)
Travel back with me, then, if you will, to those glorious by-gone days... way back in 2005, when no one had a smart phone and my freshman friends and I excitedly signed up for accounts on this new thing for college kids called Facebook.
This, friends, is where it all began. This was move-in day: August 2005. My entire family brought me to Morris - including my siblings, who TOOK A DAY OFF FROM SCHOOL DURING THE FIRST WEEK OF SCHOOL. I was beyond excited, but just as beyond terrified. This picture was taken after we had hauled in all my college belongings, set up my loft bed, and unpacked. (If you look closely, you can see my red retainer case on the little stand by the bed.) My family was mere minutes away from heading home, and they all appear more-or-less gleeful to leave me in a different state. I also seem to be fairly confident, but years later, my mom informed me that as they left me in my dorm room, I looked "like a deer in headlights." Thankfully, I got over the deer in headlights thing.
As you well know, college band was a big part of my UMM life. From day one, I was involved in concert band, jazz band, or both. I was not a music major (fun fact: at the time, I was a psychology major. like every freshman ever.), but I was welcome to play my clarinet to my little heart's desire. It was because of band that I met the most wonderful people - nearly all of my UMM friends were in the bands, and one of them was even the guy I married. My family was pretty pumped that I had joined the band, and they came nearly every concert band and jazz band concert. This picture is from my first concert. It was October, and my family trekked to Morris for the homecoming concert. I was so excited: not only did I get to play with this fantastic ensemble, but my family would be there to hear me! I was (and still am) moved that they would give up their Sunday and make the five-hour-round-trip journey to hear me perform in a long concert - and by "hear" I mean "see me there holding my clarinet and assume that I was playing as it was basically impossible to pick my sound out from the din." I had also been in school for nearly two months and had found my footing, so I was thrilled to be able to introduce my family to my new band friends. Freshman year was a time of miracle and wonder, and that is the truth.
Every time I look at this picture, I have to smile. This is the very first picture of James and me together. It would be nearly two years before we started dating, but by this point (December 2005), we had been great friends for months. James was the very first UMM friend I made - it was move-in day, and we were both signing up for concert band. We became fast friends, and I loved hanging out with him. James was not like any guy I had ever met before - there was just something about him that I really liked. I could count on him to make me laugh or to lend an ear when I'd had a tough day. I absolutely love this picture - first of all, look at how YOUNG we are! And our so-very-middle-2000s clothes! But more importantly, look at how happy we are just to be sitting on a shitty couch next to each other. Of course, neither of us had any idea that we were sitting next to the person we would eventually marry. But goshdarnit, we sure are cute.
James and I bonded over many things: bad jokes, late-night chats, a love of Mountain Dew... but the thing that brought us closest together was swing dancing. UMM had a Swing Club that one could attend every Thursday night, and it was there that we learned how to swing dance. But wait - let me clarify. That is where JAMES learned to swing dance with (gasp!) another girl, and he would then come to my dorm room and teach me what he had learned. (Sophomore year, James ditched his swing partner and took me on instead.) I never knew how to dance - probably because the only dances I attended were full of high schoolers who were either grinding up on each other or doing the middle-school slow dance. But James taught me how to swing dance, and that has opened up so many doors for me. I found out that I actually really loved to dance, and James and I would swing dance at the thrice-yearly UMM jazz dances. As we got older, we would swing dance at other people's weddings, and then at our own. And now, we teach swing dancing classes at the library. And it all began at UMM! This picture was taken the night we performed as swing dancers in this bizarre UMM Jazz/Morris Community Theatre holiday show. A weird experience, yes, but we sure had a good time practicing in the parking lot.
Remember the UMM jazz dances? They were held in December, February, and April. The December dance was a holiday dance (obviously), and the February dance was Valentine themed (obviously), and the April dance was... uhh... whatever. There was a tropical theme once, and this picture was from one of two toga-themed dances. I had been a failure and had not gotten a toga, and God only knows what I'm wearing instead. (WHY SO SHINY??) But the reason I love this picture is not because of the togas (or lack thereof). The person in the picture with me is my dear friend Sara, who would become my partner in UMM crime for the next three years. She was integral in getting James and me together, and she encouraged me through long nights of English and art history paper writing. Sara and I moved into a house our junior year and stayed there through graduation, and I cannot WAIT to show you those pictures in the next installments.
The five freshman year photos are pretty heavy on a "new beginnings" theme. Move-in day, my first concert, my first picture with James, James and I learning how to swing dance, and my first picture with Sara. SO MANY NEW THINGS, and they all have turned out wonderfully. Stay tuned for part II: sophomore year! (Hopefully, the sophomore year and on pictures won't be quite so grainy, as I acquire a digital camera at some point during that year. No promises, though.)