There are a few things that universities are notorious for leaving out of the general curriculum and they mostly pertain to finance: how to file your own taxes and things like, I don’t know, what a W2 actually means, how to best get yourself out of student loan debt, and even habits as simple as balancing your checkbook and steering clear of credit cards. Fortunately I have parents that were aware of the ways in which public education would fail me and they did their best to fill in the gaps. There were other small things I was told to expect after graduation day, usually woefully or condescendingly relayed to me from recent grads. One particularly dramatic alum told me to “get ready to cry a lot”. Maybe it’s just me, but the days of 50¢ wells and the hangovers they created, cramming all night and forgetting everything immediately after, and the melodramatic, financially-draining situations mean sorority sisters thrust upon me have yet to overwhelm me with bouts of tearful nostalgia in the nine months I’ve been out of school. There is one post-college happening that completely blindsided me, though. I’d never heard it mentioned and the idea never crossed my mind so there is no way I could have mentally prepared for the almost complete disbandment of my collegiate group of friends.
Do I still speak to these people? Yes. Do I still care about the details of their life and general well-being? Of course. Something that I can no longer say yes to, though, is the complete revolution of my plans around this tight knit group of friends. During school the people I ran around with were my team. If there was a snow day, we were slipping, sliding, and laughing all the way to each others’ houses. If there was a birthday, we were baking a cake and making a Facebook invitation for dinner. If there was a holiday worthy of a celebration, the girls were party-proofing the house and the boys were picking up the keg. If it was a Tuesday night in October and someone wanted to watch a scary movie on a whim, some of us went to Blockbuster and some of us went to buy popcorn. We didn’t have to knock before walking into each other’s houses and things as mundane as grocery shopping on a Sunday night were rarely completed in isolation and were often practically turned into a social event.
Now not only are we geographically scattered, but the parallels in our lives have all veered away from each other as well. Relationships used to be something we’d idly discuss and laugh about over a hungover Tex Mex lunch and they’ve quickly become a focal point, “I”s evolving into “we”s, bridal showers being planned instead of toga parties. Our thoughts have shifted from date parties to electric bills, from matching Halloween costumes to which reasonable boots to buy for winter. Gone are the days of the spontaneous bar or poolside rendezvous, first replaced with dinner dates made a week in advance, and now silence is broken by a birthday text or an overdue and mostly guilt-driven phone conversation or email.
If Facebook didn’t exist I’m not sure I’d even know where these people resided or what they did for a living.
I’ve come to the conclusion that college is a four year long meeting. People from high schools and towns you didn’t even know existed pour into an institution of higher education and you meet them while wearing the same colors and cheering on the same team. You become friends with them while they’re in your clubs, rush group, and economics class. You become integral to each other’s lives while you live, intern, and graduate together. Then they’re gone. When the time is up and we’ve all received the piece of paper we came there for it’s like a rock got dropped into a pond, leaving us rippling off in our own directions. It’s not a sad or happy thing but merely a strange sensation to look back on how vastly different things were just a short time ago. College towns seem to only be a place of transition, in my case 36,000 people crossing paths for a four year spell before continuing on.
I’m gonna go watch The Big Chill now, or something.