As mentioned in last Tuesday’s post, I am going to divulge the details from my past, well since graduating high school, up until this point. This June marks my 4th anniversary as an Ohio U alum, and therefore I feel the need to look back on all of my Junes, beginning with June 2002- when I graduated from my alma mater, Hampton High School.
One morning in June 2005 I sat in the Convo and watched these girls say goodbye to their college days in their caps and gowns. While I watched these girls, who had become sisters to me, I was overcome with a surplus of emotions- one being pride. I was so happy to share this moment with my friends.
Another thought crossed my mind as I sat in peanut-heaven taking in the graduation scenario: This was going to be me down there, in my cap and gown, in exactly one year.
These four girls, Kristin, Ruth, Sarah, and Carrie, came into my life during my junior year at OU- shortly after my 21st birthday. They are also known as the “Lancaster Girls” and my Sex and the City ladies too. I also hold them responsible for corrupting me- all in good fun of course. And speaking of fun, we sure had a lot of good times! during our many, many nights with up on Court Street.
June 2005 marked the end of another great year at OU, and was the beginning of many changes for me. These four ladies were not returning to Athens with me the following year, so I as proud as I was of them, I was certainly distraught wondering who I would be spending my time with. Sure, I had my other friends- including Brandon, Libby, Mike, Jackie, etc.- but I literally spent most of my time with these four ladies. Like I said, they were sisters to me. Those four girls, and Jackie too, taught me to be strong; to be confident; to believe in myself; to be who I am. They showed me that you always look out for your girl friends, no matter what, and that your girl friends are your real soulmates. They helped me see that I was beautiful just the way I am, flaws and all.
Even before the girls graduate, I began thinking, what am I going to do (next year) without them? I couldn’t imagine my life without them. My spring quarter literally revolved around them, as I’d wake up (usually hungover), go to class until noon (perfect college schedule), Sarah would pick me up and we’d go lay out, then get ready to head out for another night on Court Street. I was living the College Dream…or so I thought.
One night, before heading back to Pittsburgh, Sarah and I began the night pre-gaming in my house before meeting the others up on Court Street. (Honestly, I cannot even remember who we met since most people had already gone home for the summer.) I have one thing to say about that night, and a whole lot of regrets: Bacardi 151. The rest of the night is very blurry, but one thing I kinda-sorta remember is being at The Junction believing that I was talking to my new roommate Jay (and a girl ‘he’ was with). It wasn’t until the next morning, after waking up next to Sarah on our front porch, that I thought, Jay doesn’t have a short ponytail so that couldn’t have been him. That night changed it all. For the rest of the summer, I swore off drinking to cut out all the BS and distractions that accompany alcohol. I finally recognized that I had gotten too caught up in the OU party scene and all I really had to remember it by was the hot mess that had become my life.
For many reasons, including the one I just mentioned, my anxiety levels were skyrocketing during the summer of 2004. After being home in Pittsburgh for the remainder of June and beginning of July, working for Kraft (my dad’s employer), I began summer session in Athens…while still working for Kraft. Let me simplify that. On Sunday night, I drove to Athens, OH to play student for the week and then as soon as class ended on Thursday afternoon, I drove back to Pittsburgh, PA to play Kraft summer employee. I’m not going to complain, but yes, it was exhausting.
Despite the back-and-forth, I had an A.MAY.ZING. summer- when I was in Athens. It was during that summer that I truly fell in love with my college town. I felt so content and at peace during this time, like the campus was mine. It was a great change from the usual chaos that consumed Athens during the school year.
I did a lot of thinking that summer, some prompted by the two English courses I was enrolled in and the fabulous professor that is Jeremy Webster. Other thoughts were provoked from spending time with the Rebecca, Karrie, and Dusty. It was so nice to spend more time with them, without any other distractions getting in the way.
My time in Athens that summer also allotted me time with the always-fabulous and entertaining Joe Zummo. After he’d talk to his girlfriend, Renee, on the phone, Joe would head over (sometimes with a 6-pack) and we’d sit on the 10 Hocking porch and talk about everything and nothing at all. Some days he’d just tell me one popsicle joke after another, and other days he’d open up about how his hopes for the coming school- one being to become better friends with the beloved Casey. To be honest, I wanted that for him too.
Part of me didn’t want that summer to end, for a few reasons. While I was anxious for my friends to arrive and enjoy my new Athens with me, I also recognized that it meant I would be one day closer to the end of my OU days as graduation became more real to me.
No matter what, Senior Year was another A.MAY.ZING. time at OU for me. New roommates (Jay, Mike, and Amanda) brought about many new friends (Ashley, Jenni “BaFaFa”, Jenny- just to name a few), and of course I was lucky to still have some of my favorites like Libby, Brandon, Mike, and Phill still there with me.
This is another time in my life that I wish I could get back. Re-do senior year at OU…YES, PLEASE! I wish I knew then what I know now-thoughts constantly play in my mind. I know I’d do things differently based on what I’ve learned since then, and who I am today. For one I would have let that boy know exactly how I felt about him, once and for all. And second, I would have switched over to that Child Life Specialist position. These are just two of the things I know that I would have done, but what’s done is done. I also wish I was strong back then; that I believed in myself more; and that I lived more freely without having any regrets. Woulda, coulda, shoulda…
Even having to live with these regrets now, I am grateful for what I learned that summer. For it is because of my experiences, my mistakes, and my woulda-coulda-shouldas, that I can look back today remembering how much I’ve grown since then, and how I’ll continue to seek to better myself each and every day.
You know people say how important a college education is, and I will not disagree. However, a college education isn’t just what you learn from textbooks, research papers, and all-night cram sessions, but rather it’s what you learn about yourself that makes the experience worthwhile.
Notes: The title of this blog is lyrics from the song Murder on the Dance Floor, which is a favorite of these lovely Lancaster girl friends of mine. Not only was it on The Pub Mix, but it was also dedicated to the OU girls at Kristin’s wedding.
And the portait of Court Street above is wonderful and available for purchase. Check out Ellen Pettey Photography at http://ellenpettey.com/ to order your own! Look through her galleries for others that may interest you as well.