No matter where life takes me and what’s going on in the little world of K, I find I can always close my eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine my beloved college days in Athens as though it was just yesterday. For those few moments I am at peace. Lost in the memories of my past, I feel like I’m home. I am me. Unfortunately even the best daydreams must end, just as my college days did. However, last weekend I was able t0 (re)live those days in Athens. I was fortunate to be able to open my eyes and literally see the memories right in front of me. I was home.
Last weekend I traveled back to my college town for the wedding of my friends, Bill and Renee; back to the place where they meant and their love began. A wedding in Athens…what an A.MAY.ZING. affair. Joining me were my friends/ former OU alums, Mike (my date), Jay, Ashley, Ryan, Meghann, and Steve (aka Rook or Snookie). I’ve mentioned some of these friends before, but just to fill you in on my friends, this was part of my Senior Year Crew. Jay and Mike were my roommates; Ryan, Meghann (Ryan’s wife), Steve, and Bill lived across the hall; and Ashley lived downstairs. Yes, it was like Friends.
After taking the overnight Megabus on Thurdsay, I arrived in Columbus and headed straight to Starbucks to work for a few hours (as noted in a former post). Lucky me, I was able to spend some time with my Columbus friends during the day. Jen (Morel) met me for lunch at North Market, and then Elise (friend and former colleague at Children’s Hunger Alliance) stopped by for a chat session. Before I knew it, the infamous Joe Zummo was strutting his stuff into ‘bucks looking as snazzy as ever. With my 40 hours clocked in, Joe, Elise and I decided on an impromptu Happy Hour on the patio of Frog Bear & Wild Boar in the Arena District (my former stomping grounds when I lived in C-bus). Best idea ever! It wasn’t long after that Ashley, Jay, and Mike arrived to take me back to Athens. ♥ Because of the craziness that my life has been lately, and all of the other travel, it really didn’t hit me that I was really going back to OU. But as I drove with my friends, on Interstate 33, through Lancaster… it hit me. I really was going home.
Since I thought that I was going to write this a week ago, the plan was to hash out all of the details and the (blurry) memories from our nights out on Court Street. This is us. Mostly, the Ohio University Class of 2006. Four years ago we spent our last night of college together, up on Court Street. Four years later, we reunited again for more memories on OU alums’ favorite street. Look at us. Some of them I haven’t seen in 2-3 years, but could you really tell from this photo? That’s what I love about my friends. No time nor distance will ever ruin the bond between my friends and me, and this is why I continuously say that I am blessed.
Friday Night: (From Left to Right: Jay, Mike, Ryan, Meghann, Me, Steve (aka Rook), and Ashley) After the rehearsal dinner at the OU Inn, we made our way up to Court Street. The groom did join us for a few drinks on Friday night but this was the crew that made the rounds- Tony’s; The Junction; The Pub; Pawpurrs; and the C.I. There were shots (like Tony’s Hot Nuts and Girl Scout Cookies- both delicious) and lethal drinks (Junction Punches and At the end of the night, and again the next morning, the conclusion was we cannot drink like we used to. Thank goodness for Goodfellas, one of OU students’ favorite late night treats, to help soak up some of the alcohol before bed.
How did we do it back in college? Sadly, we probably all drank (a lot) more back then too then we ever will as alums. Now I won’t directly say that OU is a party school, but there’s definitely a lot of partying going on in that little college town. I did a lot of reminiscing on Friday night. Each bar instigated a surplus of memories. Each familiar face made me think of another friend of mine. I took a lot of deep breaths that night. It felt so great to be back.
Saturday Morning: I woke up early to get a work-out in before the others awoke. Running on the treadmill gave me time to take it all in. Admist all of the traveling and socializing on Friday, I didn’t get much time to myself. But here I was, in Athens. When the troops finally arose we discovered that some were more hungover than others, and unfortunately a greasy breakfast and coffee didn’t help. Still we managed to get everyone together for a trip uptown for some shopping at College Bookstore and Cross Court Cards & Gifts- which I used to love going to so much! It was the perfect place to kill time between classes, and I would stop by (Note: It’s sorta a really small town-version of Target like cards and mementos. Perfect for women.) We didn’t get a chance to spend much time uptown, but I did get a chance to grab a coffee at Donkey (for Phill) before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the wedding.
Saturday Evening- The Wedding: I have to say that we all look pretty dapper in our wedding wardrobes- even the guys (jk). It was a vast improvement from our usual Saturday afternoon attire of tee shirts, sweats, and flip-flops. The ceremony was in a chuch right off campus, and it was there that we met up with our former roommate, Amanda. I’m just going to say that the ceremony was interesting; a lot different from ones I’ve attended before.
I’ll come clean and admit that I was distracted for much of the ceremony. One reason was because I have always seen Bill and Renee as such a complimentary couple. They just fit so well together. They’ve been together since I’ve known them- getting together during their freshmen year at OU- and I know that their relationship hasn’t been perfect, but they figured out how to make it work. And in my opinion, 1) it’s not easy and 2) the college lifestyle definitely makes it challenging. But isn’t love about overcoming the challenges, proving how strong your love for one another is? Then again, I’m single so what do I know?
During the ceremony I began daydreaming about a wedding in Athens…my own wedding. If I married an OU alum, a particular one for that matter, then I could very well see myself getting married there. Wait, me getting married? And to whom would that be?
Next topic please…
The reception was in the same building as my former dining hall, Nelson, which was on South Green- my stomping grounds sophomore year. After dinner I decided to get some fresh air and go for walk on the infamous catwalk (so many memories). Seriously, part of me felt like I was twenty years old again. It was surreal. I was having flashbacks and thinking of my OUers- one in particular. Should I call him? I called Libby and left her a voicemail. Should I call him? I called Darlene, leaving her a rambling voicemail about how crazy it felt to be back there and how I kept thinking of him, thinking of calling him. (The message didn’t save due to my new phone.) Walking along the catwalk, I made my way to Dougan (my sophomore dorm). Feeling caught up in the moment, and a little tipsy, I went to see if the door was unlocked. It was. Before I knew it, I was on the second floor of Dougan looking at my old mod. (Note: The photos here are from when I took the others back later in the evening, and others during the reception. I love that last photo of the boys!)
During the reception Mike and Jay introduced the game Bros Icing Bros to us ladies. Unfortunately for him, Rook was the likely victim of the game, which continued throughout the night. Icings 2 & 3 were mastered and conquered by me and Ashley, respectively. After all of the years and shit that we put up with, this is how we finally got the respect of Mike and Jay.
Saturday Night: After venturing to Dougan for a trip down memory lane (pictures above), we hiked through East Green, up Morton Hill, through College Green, until we came upon Court Street. The walk itself was a trip down memory lane. How many times did I make that walk- sober and not-sober?
I love the intersection of Court & Union. It was love at first sight for me when I first came upon it during my orientation back on July 18, 2003. There’s a diagonal crosswalk in that small little town. I cannot remember seeing another- even here in Chicago. Sometimes I’ll create my own in this one intersection on the back streets in my neighborhood, always thinking of Athens when I do…but it’s not as special. There’s only one diagonal crosswalk that I love.
We made our way to Tony’s, beginning the Court Street Adventure- Night #2 off with a Tony’s Hot Nut, and then a water and coffee for me. The lovely bride and groom joined us for a nightcap, which was quite a site to see as Renee was still in her gown.
I swear I wasn’t that drunk. I promise you. I remember leaving Tony’s and running into another bridal party, which I just so happened to know the groom! (Long story.) After that little occurence, the group went veered off as Mike, Ashley and I headed for some substance at Goodfellas. Then, I believe, we walked down to Courtside but with 2 o’clock approaching we decided to call it a night too. Not being able to reach the 1 cab in Athens (okay, there are 2 cabs total), I was able to talk the kids into walking to the hotel (approx. 20 minutes). That was the best decision that we made. It was a walk that the three of us will never forget. Nothing of significance happened, other than Ashley and Mike deciding to call and order D.P.Dough when Avalanche was closed. Didn’t we just have Goodfellas? My mistake.
Anyways, back to the walk, words cannot describe how remarkable it was. Ashley pointed out that “we can see the stars”, something that none of us typically see in our cities. As funny as it sounded at the time, she was right. There was something so peaceful about that walk home. I, myself, was ‘me’ in that moment. It’s something I am always searching to find (again); something that I always seem to naturally find when I’m back in Athens. I cannot describe it but know what it is because of how I feel when it’s there, within me. I hate to say it, but ‘it’ is there when I’m around (a) certain people too- which is why I am still hoping to find/reconnect with ‘it’ again.
Sunday Morning: I won’t say too much about the morning because I hate saying goodbye to friends and to Athens. We headed back up to Court Street for brunch at Bagel Street and one last stop at Donkey for much-needed caffeine for the ride home. Because of the bus schedule in Columbus, I decided to drive back with Ashley, Jay, and Mike to Cleveland and take Megabus back to Chicago from there that evening. (Yes, it was a long day.) We said our goodbyes to Meghann and Ryan before making our way to the car.
Much to my own surprise, I handled everything fairly well. No breakdowns. No tears. No depressing heart-to-hearts. I love Athens. I always will. But there’s no place for me there anymore. As an alum told me once, while I was still in school, “Athens isn’t about the place, it’s about the people.” Without all my friends there, it’s not just my Athens anymore. My old dorm, house, and apartment are still there, as well as my favorite bars and special spots; however, without the people who made OU so unforgettable for me, they’re just mere buildings and landmarks.
Let me just say this…not like you have a choice. This was probably the 2-3 time in Athens that there was no chance of Casey being there. Every other time I ventured back, he was at least enrolled at OU and therefore he could very well be there. But this time, knowing that there was absolutely no chance of him being there (especially with him residing in Denver now), I found myself wondering, what if he had never been there at all? How different would my life be? He is part of my Athens, the Athens I hold near and dear to my heart. Although I wish he played a different role in my Athens story, and the ending was more happily ever after than maybe, someday we’ll see each other again, I am glad that he was part of my life, and in a way still is. And since I’m down-right exhausted, I can get away saying this: If he wasn’t meant to be in my life for a serendipital reason, then heaven help me, I honestly have no idea what the reason could be.
On that note, I’ll finish this post by saying: Athens, once again, you made me fall more in love with you. I’m not sure how you continue to capture my heart, but I promise that no matter how far I go nor how many cities I see, you will always be ‘the one’ for me.
The title of this post comes from Boston’s More than a Feeling. And here’s the Scrubs’ version of More than a Feeling, that is appropriately dedicated to the Turk & JD of my life, my former roomates/overindulgent airbanders/ forever friends, Mike & Jay.