Jul 5, 2011

The Purpose of a College Education

My parents were fully convinced that I would be going away to college. Perhaps it was wishful thinking on their part or perhaps they knew I needed it far more than they did but I was solid in my resolve that change was bad. I had a choice of two colleges to attend in my backyard; Utah Technical College and BYU. The drawbacks were obvious. UTC was high school continued and BYU was, well, BYU. Not to mention my ACT scores were abysmal and I was only accepted on academic warning rather than welcomed with open arms. It hurt my pride.

Spring break of my senior year was the vacation my parents planned in advance. We headed south and made strategic stops at different colleges on our drive down. I had my own private tours and they seemed to be expecting me. Stubborn as I was, my steady refusal to leave home crumbled on my tour of Dixie College in St. George, Utah. Four months later found me standing in the red dust of St. George as my parents drove away, leaving me to an apartment full of strangers, and two new pans for cooking. As if I knew how.

Last week my friend, Jill, came to town. She lives in Montana and I've barely seen her since our graduation from Dixie College and my first year of Utah State. I surprised her by inviting myself into her parent's backyard last week then kidnapping her so I could get my groceries into the refrigerator. We spent four solid hours catching up on the past couple of decades, discussing life, death, happiness, marriage, kids and those subjects the middle aged women discuss. Our time at Dixie was silently an accepted history that didn't come up until the fourth hour. Somehow those memories are so sacred and juxtaposed to our current lives, disturbing them felt disrespectful. Eventually, though, curiosity won out.

We played a game I can only categorize as Did-That-Really-Happen?  I remember experiences that were so bizarre that they simply could not be true. Certain that my memory was playing tricks on me, I brushed them aside. With Jill sitting with me, we bounced our memories off one another. Did some man try to break into our apartment one night and stand outside our windows? Did our friend, Rick, really drive back to check on us and find him halfway in our kitchen window? Did we really go tunnel running at Zion's National Park? Did Rob Smith really try to date both Heidi and me at the same time? Did I really go on 4 dates in one day/night? Did we really name my little yellow Toyota, Yoda? Did Jill name her puce colored car Beulah? Does Enterprise, Utah really exist? Did I put out a grease fire that bent the stove hood when it shot that high? Are you sure it was me that started it? Did we really not have a telephone at all that first year? Did we really just get bored one day and drive to Mesquite, pick up a couple of guys while we were driving the Arizona strip, then get in their car and join them as they drove to Vegas? Disneyland trip a couple of times by riding in a bus all night, playing all day then driving all night back home?

Did we stand up our dates that night we went to Vegas and try to make it up by making them dinner at our apartment, serving them a strawberry pie that I only noticed after I had my own piece in front of me that it had mold? And everybody ate it but me?

Yes to all of these activities and we did go rappelling, hiking through narrow canyons, and wore purple eye shadow. We kidnapped pillows and held them for ransom, threw spaghetti on the ceiling to see if it would stick (it does) had a food fight over by the fountain on campus and swapped ABC gum with Boyd every time we passed on campus.

I have determined that the real reason we go to college is to provide ourselves with witnesses to our own youth. My journals sit in a box in the storage room, a mere 20 feet from where I sit as I type this but I haven't opened them to cross-reference my memory. Instead I waited until Jill came to town to test out my version of the past. Because for just a few hours, I remembered the girls we were before we became women who worried about mortgages, children, the cost of gasoline, scheduling the orthodontist, worrying about an upcoming mammogram, and turning down the air conditioner for concern of the cost.

We were girls who threw caution to the wind and together figured out who we were.


Kaye said...

Ah, the follies of youth. I think it is more fun to remember with friends because you didn't DO those crazy things alone. . . When you read them in the journal you start questioning yourself and your sanity. With friends there you are assured a modicum of acceptance by your joint responsibility!

How funny that about 30 minutes ago I got a message on Facebook from my college roomate who was remembering a certain 4th of July where two slightly inebriated young women enjoyed a fireworks show while trying to take pictures of the blasts. Yup. There's the proof!

Rachel said...

Funny - I think that sounds like the perfect definition of the purpose of a college education :)

EmptyNester said...

The absolute BEST years of my life!!! And I'm so grateful that all four of the lovelies have experienced the college years---the most fun EVER!

Thanks for stirring some of my college memories!

Klin said...

And some of did all those things outside of college, too. These are the reasons our children cannot pull fast ones on us, like they like to believe that they can.

Awesome post Nancy.

Joan said...

I'm trying to figure out which one is you. I assume it is the girl on the left. Wink!

Tonia said...

Good times, good times. And I think you're the one in the middle.

Anne said...

From the comments you make about BYU, I am sure there are some that would be totally amazed to know you have a degree from there:)

SupaFlowaPowa said...

I love this post and I love the way you write. Though I'm not quite there yet, I have the same trips down memory lane with my friends about things that happened in middle school and high school and have been tokened as the elephant - in Chinese, a term meaning I remember EVERYTHING. lol so funny! Thanks for sharing!!


M-Cat said...

What fun memories. And now I will think of you tramping around in the red dirt while I am here.