The first bite of food is always the best one. You’ve spent time waiting for it, anticipating it, thinking about it, and when you finally touch it to your tongue, it all culminates in sweet satisfaction. That, or you’re trying something new and it becomes blatant that you won’t be taking another bite.
But I’m not here to discuss food with you all. The food is a metaphor for college. If you’ve read almost any of my posts in the past several months, I talk about college a lot. My first posts about it were back in December saying how far off it seemed and how excited I was for it. I couldn’t wait to be in college in out of high school. At the time of this post, I’m 5 days away from leaving for college, and a week away from moving in and orientation. The more something becomes reality instead of a dream, the more I start to question it and get worried. Not a bad kind of worried, but I start to consider everything my life is about to become. I’m leaving my home state, I’ll be living on my own, I’ll be getting a job, making payments, and a bunch of other things that I only ever heard about from other people. This whole moving experience was never more clear to me, up to this point, than today (yesterday for those of you with a normal sleep schedule) when I helped a friend of mine move into her own dorm room. Today felt like my first day of college, even though mine doesn’t start for a week, and I just want to share my experience today, because it was like a dream that’s so vivid you think it’s real, only to wake up and discover it was all in your head.
I woke up early to go to my friend’s house and help her load all of her belongings into her truck. We then drove down to CSU and found parking spots. I had to travel a little ways, because if you’ve never been to a college on the first move-in day, then consider yourself lucky. People and cars were everywhere, and parking was a nightmare. The roads next to CSU are already narrow and have a lot of one way streets, so basically driving there feels like walking on a frozen lake. Don’t hit the people, don’t speed in the school/construction zone, obey the irregular stop signs, know your one way streets, recognize any parking limitations, and don’t hit another car. It’s chaos. Luckily I came out of the day unscathed, unless you count a scare that I had parked in 2 hour parking for 8 hours and then driving toward a dead end. But no fines or wrecks or injured humans, so we’ll call it a victory.
When I finally found a parking spot, I had to go and find my friend on an unfamiliar campus amidst all the other confused college kids. I’m pretty sure I was one of the only people on that campus who was going to college, just not CSU, so I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb. Plus I was wearing a new shirt I just bought that is totally awesome. It says, “There’s nothing we can’t face… except for bunnies,” and it has a graphic of a bunny. That’s a line from Buffy, said by the greatest character on that show, Anya. She has a weird fear of bunnies that’s on ongoing joke in the series, but I digress. I got a lot of looks from frat guys and sorority girls, but I found my friend and we took box after box up the stairs to her room. She lives on the top floor, so you can imagine how much fun I had walking up and down those steps repeatedly, though it’ll be even more fun for her. We set up her room, got unpacked, and all that fun stuff. I was the first one to use both beds, by the way. We finally got the majority of the items and some of the clothes unpacked, when I asked her if she was staying there tonight. She said yes, and that her new dorm room was her new home. And that was really my first taste.
See, for the next five days, I still live with my parents. For 18 years before hand, we’ve both lived with our parents all our lives. Not two hours earlier, she was still technically living with her parents, and all of a sudden, she wasn’t. At the end of the day, she wouldn’t go back to her house, she’d go back to her dorm room. She wouldn’t have her parents to talk to, cook her dinner, check in with her, or anything like that. In an instant, she was independent. She was now capable of living apart from her parents. Her clothes were there, she had a shower and bathroom, her bed, her laptop, all of it. I guess in my mind I just always pictured it being a little more monumental or clearly defined. Nope, it just happened. In an instant. No grand orchestras, no grand openings, no nothing. Not grand, but bland, and that screamed to me more than any orchestra would. It showed me what my moving experience will be like.
After that, we went and got lunch at the cafeteria, which is pretty impressive. They had a LOT of options, but the most appealing was, of course, the Mongolian grill. It wasn’t a business’ grill (from what I could tell), it just belonged to the university. A mini-Hu-Hot. We ate that. Then we found ice cream. Then my friend said goodbye to her dad and we went back to her room. We finished unpacking her stuff and kind of just hung out. Some guys came by and asked if we had any questions. My friend said no, but I asked them if they could help us set up her wi-fi, because it wasn’t working for us. They helped and then she had wi-fi. We listened to music, started to watch some Buffy, and then her roommate came in. That’s what I’d been most anxious about. I had to meet this girl who, from how Katie described her, was totally awesome. Plus, she’d be living with my friend for the next year, so I had to “approve” her. So I met her and her family and we watched her unpack her things and chatted with her and her family. Eventually her family left and it was just the three of us in the dorm and we just hung out and chatted for like an hour and a half. She’s pretty cool. I approve of her.
What they may not know is that I was also observing their behavior a little. Meeting new people is strange enough, but it must be even weirder when that stranger is sharing a room with you for the next 8-9 months. That’s one of my own biggest worries: finding friends and meeting new people. I mean, I know how to handle myself in social situations, but I’ve always had at least one person to help me out. I mean, from Kindergarten through 12th grade, I’ve always had at least one friend I always saw and sat with and bla bla bla. But I’ve never had to go somewhere I don’t know ANYBODY around me. My roommate is from South Korea (still not 100% sure on that, but like 95%) and he isn’t great at English or responding to my emails, so I feel like I’m driving in blind. It’s kind of exciting, but at the same time I can’t help wondering what my new social circle will look like, if I have one at all. I’m participating in a lot of stuff before school starts and during the opening week(s) to help me meet people, and I’m also counting on a lot of other people being in the same boat. There’s probably nothing to worry about, but losing so many good friends here makes me uneasy about whether I can find other close friends in Utah. From how I saw my friend and her roommate interact, with and without me, I have high hopes, because that was the least awkward that situation could’ve possibly been.
The next part of the evening is really boring and doesn’t make a lot of sense. My friend and her roommate had a mandatory meeting they had to attend, and they said I could stay in their room and wait for them and we could maybe do something after they were done. So I spent the next two and a half hours of the evening alone in my friend’s dorm room using her laptop to watch How I Met Your Mother. I just finished season 4 today, and it’s getting good. 88 episodes down, 120 left. That is a lot of Netflix. Ugh. Anyway, so yeah, I was alone in my friend’s dorm room. I had spent more time in her own living space than she had. Kinda strange. Ultimately we didn’t do anything afterwards and I went home, but there’s one last thing about that story that I want to share.
My friend has a lofted bed, so she put her “taco chair” underneath it, and that’s where I curled up for two and a half hours. In all the time being alone though, I got to thinking. It was quiet, and it was just me, and it kind of made me think about what my own dorm life will be like. Will I spend a lot of time in my dorm room? Will that time be spent alone? I don’t know. I was basically living in a dorm for a few hours, and it just sparked my curiosity about what experiences my future dorm holds for me. Hopefully it’s not quite that lonely, but I guess that makes sense because everyone else was doing college stuff, and I don’t even attend school there, so you know… I didn’t belong there. There was nobody around there to interact with because I technically shouldn’t have been there. I don’t think there’s a rule or anything, but I don’t live in that room, or that hall, and I don’t go to school there, so it would make sense that I would be more or less alone there for a little while. Quick side note, they hung up papers in the hallway for people to sign their names and their birthdays, and I put my name down (hehehe). And my bunny shirt, while attracting a lot of attention, it also got a many whispers, and one girl even complimented me on it. Sweet!
The final thing I can think of is almost a feeling of guilt, but not guilt. I don’t know if there’s a single word for this, but it’s a feeling of “what could have been.” I’ve been to two college campuses that I’m not attending now while students were there, and both times I felt this feeling. As easily as I chose Weber for myself, I could’ve also enrolled at either of those colleges. Every person I saw today was somebody that could’ve been my roommate, or hallmate, or maybe a best friend. I could’ve chosen CSU, and I had considered it a little, but I really only had it in my back pocket. Watching everyone else though preparing for their own life, seeing the new fraternity and sorority members, the RAs, people moving in, people eating, whatever it was, I wasn’t a part of that. It was real, but it wasn’t real for me. I wouldn’t see any of those people, or live with them, or become friends with them. They’re on a different path, and that path could’ve been my path. It was like a dream, or a zoo in the sense of being nearby these animals and habitats but not belonging there. Of course I didn’t lose anything, because I never really had it. But it’s like opening door number one on The Price is Right, but then Drew Carey shows you door number 2 first. The contestant never owned that new washer and dryer combo, or the new car, but it still feels like they lost it because they could’ve had it. I’m not saying I regret my decision, but door number 2 was shown to me today, and it was a good prize. Next week door number one opens, and I don’t know what’s waiting behind it.
That’s all I got. It was a good day, and I’m very close to college. It’s the final five days, and many of those days are gonna be spent packing and saying goodbye and stuff like that. I’m winding down my life here, and things are getting really intense. I’m waking up from this dream called college, and now it’s becoming a reality. Everything I’ve felt about it for the past 9 months has been compressed to these final five days, and now I’m bursting with excitement and anxiety and sadness and everything else imaginable. I just had my first real taste of college, and the main course is gonna be good.