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Schoolsick
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Mood:
Nostalgic

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The students are back "on campus", or at least on the streets where most of the university buildings are. I ran up to the K-Mart at lunch and on the way back had to weave through a massive crowd of them on their way into the subway, apparently on some kind of orientation tour. Other than the fact that they were headed into the New York subway system, it could have been any campus tour on any campus in the country.

This is the time of year I most regret rushing through my undergraduate degree in three years. Though I would never make the claim myself, I understand a little better all those adults who would tell me "these are the best years of your life" as I packed my mini fridge and clunky 386 processor(!)laptop into my mother's van to head back to Norman. Because if you're lucky enough to have scholarships and/or parents paying for your school expenses, college is the one place where you have almost all the freedom of adulthood with few of the responsibilities.

Of course those last few years before 9/11 look so much more significant now, draped in matching shades of innocence and willful ignorance. The period of peace and prosperity followed by one of hardship and conflict -- the never-ending cycle that made my 9th grade US History class so monotonous. But my first attack of schoolsickness happened in August 2001, so my fits of reminiscence aren't entirely rooted in historical context.

I miss the campus. I miss football game days. I miss the good classes, where you could actually get excited about learning some odd slice of information you'd probably never really need, just because it was interesting and knowing it made the world read a little differently. I miss getting ice cream late at night with Sus and Lou and whoever else was around and talking about all the above mentioned things as if they were the only thing that mattered because, at the time, they were.

But it's all gone now: the campus has been so altered by the recent building boom it barely looks like the one I knew. The football stadium is bigger and the expectations of the fans much higher; the charm of the out-of-nowhere championship season of my final year won't be recreated anytime soon. Sus and I talk on the phone more often than I talk to Lou, even though we live on opposite ends of the same metropolis. If I'm lucky I see them both a couple times a year; we talk about jobs and apartments and the things we do in what little free time we have without any sense of it being potentially world-changing, the doorway through which we'll progress on to great things. Our progress, if and when it comes, is not through so simple a mode of access as a wide-open door.

I would change very little of what's happened to me in the five years since I received my BA. I certainly wouldn't give up coming to New York, meeting the people I've met here, learning what I have about myself and my work. But there's a tent set up in front of the university gym across the street, selling T-shirts with the university logo and giving directions to starry-eyed freshmen. I remember that look...


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