Was my freshman year in college. I went off to college hungry to learn, anxious to make new friends and sure that my future held "big things." I was planning to be an International Studies major. My first semester course load even included Russian language.
I was assigned to Barrett Hall, an all-girls dorm on the old campus. The dorm was more notoriously known as the "virgin vault." Somehow, by the luck of the draw I was assigned the only student room on the hall with it's own bathroom attached. I thought that was a good portent.
Unfortunately, my roommate and I got off to a bad start an it only got worse from there. We were too different. It didn't take me long to realize that her favorite topic of conversation was herself. I had difficulty maintaining interest.
So, I turned elsewhere for friends. I found them on my freshman hall. Within the first week of college, orientation week, I made most of the friends I was to have my whole college career.
My best friends lived at the opposite end of the hall. One came from Chesapeake and had the greatest laugh ever, one was Indian and was destined for an arranged marriage, one was Hungarian and had actually escaped from communist rule, and one was my best friend from high school who had been assigned to the very same hall as me.
I quickly bonded with Chesapeake. While I was happy to hang out with everyone, she was the one I "wooed." I could be a really good friend back in those days. I had lots of free time to spend at it. I remember doing things like making little posters of encouragement or just leaving notes of same. Making Chesapeake laugh was one of my biggest joys then. We used to frequent the Friday night movies at Trimble Hall. I'd sit next to her making wisecracks. I distinctly remember one time when she erupted in laughter so loud that I had to clap my hand over her mouth.
The group of us on freshman hall, we had a blast. We'd crack each other up constantly. Our conversation was littered with pop culture references, bawdy endearments and inside jokes. We talked about everything: our classes, our families, our friends back home, our ideal men, and, of course, sex. What we'd be willing to do, how we'd do it...and who in the hell were we going to do it with anyway? It was all theoretical as we were indeed Barrett virgins, all of us but one.
We'd always go to lunch and supper en masse. That's how you pick out the freshman, you know. Our college required that freshmen purchase a nineteen meal plan, so we went. We'd have the best time at those meals. It was all jokes, clever repartee and raucous laughter. I can remember one meal, we were almost done eating and some random guy walks up to our table. He wanted to thank us for thoroughly entertaining him while he ate his meal and eavesdropped on us. We were so nutty we felt honored by his compliment.
I remember staying up all night talking to Chesapeake, both of us laying on the hallway floor. I remember games of Canasta, swapping romance novels, and coloring pictures to decorate our hallway walls. I remember...Worms! We explored Colonial Williamsburg using our student IDs as passes to all the attractions. We rode the Green Machine to get groceries, shop at Roses and Woolworth's, and eat at Sal's Pizza.
I remember joining Circle K, the collegiate level of Kiwanis, and meeting the rest of the friends I was to have in college. I dove right in, attending meetings and volunteering for the preschool program WATS and walking dogs for the SPCA. Chesapeake joined too, which made it all the more fun. I remember one rainy weekend, praying the local Kiwanis would call off their outdoor steak and shrimp supper, so we wouldn't have to go work in the downpour. But they still needed us and we went. We endeared ourselves to many upperclassmen that day, just for showing up.
I clearly remember those first few nights of freedom, realizing that I could come and go at will. I was accountable to no one but myself and was taking on all the responsibility that entailed.
Freshman year had it's rough patches too. There were the occasional squabbles due to misunderstandings and my big mouth. But the negatives have faded over time and I'm left with very warm feelings toward the friends I made that year and the bonds that were forged on freshman hall. I'm sure that at the time we thought we'd be friends forever...but you know how that goes.
I say that was my last year of innocence because it was the last year that I felt my future was full of possibilities. It was the last year when my future was a blank slate to be writ large. Over the summer following that year I was to meet someone. I then began a series of bad decisions that ended up coloring the rest of my college experience.
My corner of the world at school.
Where the real work got done. Note my loverboy right next to me at the desk.
Labels: college years