Days of Gratitude: 10 college things

When people ask why I decided to attend my alma mater, housed in an old tuberculosis hospital and surrounded by prisons, I usually give a rote reply about its Pacific Northwest geography, a friendly campus, and good financial aid. But the real answer is, I just chose it. It was an option among a handful of others, and I chose it. A small, private, Christian, liberal arts college has its disadvantages — fewer offerings than bigger universities, and sometimes I look at my student loans balance and utter a Liz Lemon-inspired “Blargh!” — but really, I’m proletariat enough to understand the enormous privilege I had in attending & graduating, as well as the luck I had finding enough — just barely, but enough — work even during the recession to pay my bills. It was the right choice. It was undoubtedly, in romantic Gandalf language, where I was meant to be, with those people in that place at that time.

They say that college is the best years of your life. I don’t believe life is hierarchical like that, but they were certainly good, thriving, full-to-bursting years of late nights and weird costumes and fevered writing and first love and, yes, unfortunately, blase cafeteria meals. There was calamity and sadness, too, certainly, but today, I remember ten small, happy things — out of so many more — for which I am thankful from those four years:

cupcakes1. Relearning the childhood art of — and appreciation for — naptime.

2. Freezing outside in groups at night, for many reasons: waiting for late events to begin, waiting for security to pass so we could initiate some mischief, waiting for midnight movie openings, waiting for adventure.

3. My junior year hall retreat, which included perhaps the best game of charades ever played.

4. Makarios, a study of the Beatitudes: my favorite chapel series by one of my favorite professors.

5. The weird and wonderful, sometimes life-changing, often just plain dumb things we did as RAs, including the time we made approximately 1,000,000,000,000 cupcakes (see picture) for a parking lot food fight and immediately afterward realized it’s really difficult to scrape frosting off gravelly asphalt, especially when it’s finger-numbing cold out and has recently rained.

6. Breaking rules when I was supposed to be enforcing them, and, with the enduring patience of mentors, learning how to better choose my battles. Sorry (stillnotsorry) about the dorm cat(s), Jen.

7. Pranks! The ones with balloons, the ones with brimful Dixie cups, the ones with toilet paper and tape and diapers, the ones with taken furniture, the ones with long-lost car keys, the ones I’ve forgotten, the ones better in memory than in actuality, and of course, that one with tampons and an illicit key.

8. My Creative Writing Non-fiction class, where I realized my voice was my own and my life was made of stories, maybe a few worth telling.

9. A certain infamous daylong trip to California for hamburgers. Seriously. To California — for hamburgers. #freshmanfifteen

10. Open books and open minds, open doors and open hearts.

Inspired by Prudy Chick‘s 30 Thankful Days, I am posting Days of Gratitude in November twice a week: rambling on Sundays and ten themed moments on Wednesdays. (Yes, I know it is Thursday; can I blame the Daylight Saving Time?)


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