August 8, 2014

College Memories: Nostalgia for Years Gone By

You know how when you're younger and you hear old people talk about how things have changed, and how they used to be and maybe how they long for things that once were. When we're young, we're so naive...we think "but it won't be like that for me."

Then you find yourself at 32 years old, shopping for tweezers to pluck a few errant chin hairs and are smacked right in the face with the reality of what those old people were talking about.

Tonight I stopped by the brand new Wal-Mart that just opened near the University of Tennessee. Classes haven't started yet, but there were a few random students and their parents shopping for rugs and lamps and such. I didn't really need anything (does this ever stop me from shopping?). But mostly I just wanted to check it out and see what all the hype was about.

It was really just your average Wal-Mart. But the fact that it's so easy to access from campus is sort of strange to me. Maybe it's because when I was in school, piling into a friend's car and making a late night trip to Wal-Mart was something of an adventure. Then, the closest one was at least a 15 minute ride away. Plenty of time for talking in the car, maybe listening to some awesomely bad music from the early 2000s.

Nobody told me how much I was supposed to enjoy those times while they were happening. I'm not sure who this wise person might have been, but at the time it was the farthest thing from my mind. Those four years flew by in a flash. From my first day of college when my parents and best friend left me crying on the front steps of Hess Hall (they were crying too) to the day I graduated with so many dear friends and family cheering me on.

I feel so grateful for those experiences and I certainly don't take them for granted. In a way, my time at college was extended because the fall after I graduated, I accepted a full-time job in the same department where I'd studied. I spent seven more years working for the university and also was able to get my graduate degree.

When I left that position a few years ago, the University had been where I spent almost every day of my life for eleven years.

What's more, I live less than one mile away from the place to this day. I've watched so many things change about the campus and the surrounding areas. Some for the better and some, I'm not so sure. I still don't know if this whole Wal-Mart thing is actually necessary.

Lots of beloved spots have shut down, with new ones (or parking lots) popping up in their places. I don't like to live in the past, but this time of year always makes me reminiscent for college days. When those students head to class in a few weeks, most won't think for one second about how one day they could be the chubby 32-year old buying tweezers while younger, cooler people who haven't even been born yet peruse rugs and lamps with their parents.

Do you ever find yourself looking back at memories of school days? Or maybe you hated school or have bad memories of that time. Be encouraged my matter what's behind, there's surely something better ahead!