Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My College (Non)Experience

I don't recall how I got a proverbial bee in my bonnet to go to Duquesne University upon graduating from high school. I made the decision during the short period of time when I was not dating the boy that would become my husband and I remember it causing a great deal of familial strife.

Joey graduating from high school.

Still, I Liz Lemon wanted to go there and nothing would stop me.

I wanted to live in the big city (Pittsburgh) and become some kind of captain of industry. I was going to join the crew team (stop laughing) and have this big life experience. At one point, I thought I was going to travel, like leave the United States travel.

Always with a beer in my hand. A Barq's root beer.
I was wild.
I think I might have been an alien for a period of time there in my late teens.

I didn't do any of that stuff. I did go to Duquesne for my freshman year, but by the time classes started my romance with that boy who is now my husband had rekindled. Pittsburgh, a 50-minute drive, was far from his house. Then he joined the Army and Pittsburgh was really far from Ft. Benning, GA. I went home almost every weekend and pined away for the love of my life.

A young Tim and Joey on vacation in Florida.
Tim and Joey clearly did not know about sunscreen in the 90s.
I really wasn't there for much of the extracurricular college stuff.

I did stay on campus for a few weekends. One in particular left me a hazy memory of a frat party where I insisted I wasn't going to drink. Twelve sips of beer later I was rather wasted riding a city bus to a pizza joint with some tiny blonde girl to share an extra large cheese pizza after midnight. I don't remember that girl's name. It might have been the only time I ever talked to anyone other than my roommate.

By the time decisions for the sophomore year needed to be made, I was sick of the city that had once been so attractive. It was stinky and loud. I spent long hours by myself on the bluff eating lunch meat sandwiches, watching the prisoners exercise through the high windows of the Allegheny County jail.

It was rather pathetic. Not to mention expensive.

I moved back home, transferred to Robert Morris (then just a college), and finished my marketing degree in three years with a total debt of only $6,500. Again, I failed to make any friends or do any college things. Robert Morris was predominately a commuter college at the time. The minority on-campus students were pretty surly towards those of us that didn't live there, blaming us day students for the campus's lack of night life.

Clearly, I demonstrated an aptitude for hard partying that would have really brought the place to life if only I would stay! Must have been the way I napped in my car between classes and organized my schedule so I could have a job three full days a week.

Recently, I had occassion to reflect on my college career. I'm reading Happily Ever After by Trista Sutter at the moment. Don't judge me, I'm on the library's wait list for a Kindle copy of George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones. I don't want to be reading anything that's too good when that becomes available.

Anyway, Trista, who is apparently the original bachlorette of ABC TV fame, writes that to be happy you have to suck every morsel out of every opportunity. I'm paraphrasing, but she seems to think that my college experience was a dud. Perhaps I should regret not going to more frat parties and that I never felt my oar crash into a dead fish in the Allegheny River.

I don't.

I don't regret leaving after one year any more than I regret going in the first place. I tried something and almost instantaneously remembered that it wasn't me. Living in the city, having a big group of friends, parties, being the center of attention, none of that is me. Being home, saving money, and never being very far from my family, that is who I am.

Here I am in my Duquesne University dorm room holding our first baby,
Michael Grassman. He was just a head. He eventually grew a fine patch of grass-hair
before succumbing to the lack of sunlight in said dorm room.
Eleven and a half years of marriage and a gorgeous nine-year-old daughter prove I've made the right choices in life. And I think it's kind of unfortunate that society drives us to do everything we can possibly do all of the time. Our kids can't pick one or two sports, we drive them to three different ones on the same night. We can't pick one or two activities, we say yes to everything and then if we flake and don't show for some of it, who cares? Trista and many others in the world seem to think that if you're not consuming every last drop, you're not living.

But I am. And sometimes, I feel that most when I stay home.