♥Letter 4 in a series of love letters to my friends.♥
Dear college friends,
That first year was the hardest for me. When Jerry Garcia died, I felt like our generation was hit with a burden it couldn’t bear. We hung signs out our window and played his music for days. We cried together and we drank together. My introduction to college life did not go smoothly. I had a scholarship and a real taste of freedom. Unfortunately, they don’t always go together.
I was fortunate enough to be put in a great dorm. It was a big Victorian house that held only about 40 of us. The bottom floor was for the boys and the rest was for the girls. My roommate was a sweet girl who I’m afraid I influenced badly. By the end of our freshman year, she had tried alcohol and was jamming out to Green Day incessantly. We played with the Ouija board in the common area. I sang my heart out in the hallways. The group that lived there was from all over and here we were living together in one house. We came together in the madness that is higher education.
Going to class bored me and I felt much more challenged by eating Moons over my Hammie at Denny’s in the early morning hours. Also coming up with $4.75 for large pizza required some serious hustling at times. I learned how to find change expertly. Also there was parties, beer, and boys. To the folks that made sure I got home safe, I will forever be grateful. To the night I covered myself in mattresses, a phone call to a far away friend may have saved my life. For the loves I found that year, thank you for being sweet and kind.
It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I realized I had created a life I couldn’t sustain and I had the grades to prove it. It wasn’t that I did poorly. I aced all my tests but I just didn’t go to class. I spent most mornings pretending to be in class when really I hung out at the mall with the mall walkers indulging in Cinnabon. I had left dorm life quickly and began living with a good friend in an apartment. I barely remember that place but I do know I left the lease early. I have no pictures of that time and it always bothered me because my memories are fragile.
One day while sitting there at the mall it occurred to me that I wasted an entire year. Sure I made friends, learned how to socialize, and found great new music but I had nothing to show for it. Not even credits because I had failed. I picked up a pay phone and called my dean and she simply asked me to come to her office. I remember that day like it was yesterday. She sat me down and said “You don’t belong here. You need to figure out where you do belong so you don’t waste your brain.” I withdrew from Wilkes University not long after that. To the friends I made there I say thank you for giving me an amazingly fun year. There is only a couple I still talk to and not a day goes by where I don’t think about what happened to the rest.
After taking a few months to regroup, I woke up one day and decided it was time to go back to school. Millersville seemed like a logical choice since my sister lived in Lancaster. I’m not sure how it happened but I was able to get an interview. During that interview I had the chance to explain why I did poorly and why I was transferring. By some divine miracle, they accepted me. I found a place to live with the help of my wonderful mother and began college all over. I went to every session … fall, winter, spring and summer. That school saved me. The professors, the location, and the friends I made there all came together in a perfect storm that set me up for success.
I don’t think I ever said thank you enough to my classmates. They inspired me daily and encouraged only greatness. Almost all of them have become successful in their chosen field. To see their success fills me with pride. I got to see the beginning stages of their greatness.
Starting at Millersville was a breath of fresh air. It was time for a renewal and for the first time I started to love classes again. I instantly took a liking to things like semiotics, video editing, and television production. Spending hours on the Media100 editing system saved me from boredom. Radio production was fun and I enjoyed marking tape with a white pencil and slicing it ever so perfectly.
Thinking back, I can’t remember who my first friends were at MU but there was definitely a community built within the communications department. I always felt the professors were responsible for making that happen. They were some of my favorite teachers. I learned in those classes and quickly became a free-thinker. My views on the world quickly changed from the beliefs I held as a small town girl. Things were going well except for one small problem, as with every college student, I was broke.
John gave me my first campus job. It wasn’t glamorous and it was hard work. I was responsible for washing all the uniforms for the wrestling and basketball teams. This was of course after I sang the National Anthem at the game or match. Then I would run back into the laundry room and quickly change into something that could handle the mess I was about to make. I would wait patiently for the game to end and then each player dropped their sweaty uniform at my door so that I could wash, iron, and fold it for its next use. For whatever reason, I enjoyed this job. Manual labor never scared me and I’m convinced it contributed to making me a better person. This went on for quite some time; sing, wash, fold, repeat.
It wasn’t long before I headed off to Europe with my International Studies class. There I got to see so many parts of the world that I would never have chosen for myself. It was then I realized the vastness of the world. It is necessary to travel when you are learning because it is the only way to apply the knowledge you are gaining.
Thank you to the friends that kept me entertained by chasing stuffed geese. Thank you to the friends that knew a pitcher of Yuengling Lager could make a night and to the friends who taught me the importance of being creative and even funny. Thank you for the endless hours in the studio, as they are my favorite memories. During these years I was introduced to open mics, late night study sessions, and being legal at a bar.
To the friends I grew apart from, I know you are doing great things and I will always support you from the sidelines. I wish I could say that college was my favorite time, but I’m not sure if it was. Writing this blog was the hardest one for me. I loved so much about college yet have so few true memories from those days. However, I do know the people I met shaped me, inspired me, educated me, and I will love them forever.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
P.S. It is important to note that I purposely cut some folks out of photos. Simply because I did not want to post them without their permission.