Tag Archives: college

Friends and Family

My group of friends from college all met one another, more or less, within the first week of school our freshman year. Friendships have evolved and shifted over time, of course, but–despite all of us dotting the country like lakes dot Minnesota–we’re still intact. We have a lot of love for each other. And on those precious occasions when we do gather, we love to express it: our reunions are always filled with blissfully excessive quantities of cuddling, hugging and liberal lavishing of the phrase “I love you.”

This weekend we gathered for a wedding: the first among our intimate clan. You won’t be surprised to learn that I really, really did not want to leave. I mean, I seriously contemplated ditching my flight out of Cedar Rapids this morning and catching a ride to Minneapolis with a few folks instead. If not for Bonita, I probably would have done it.

I know as well as anyone that it takes time to find community and get settled in a place–certainly to build the kind of collective love so many of us find during college. I also know that I’ve got a pretty respectable cache of folks here in Albuquerque considering it’s just coming up on one year since I moved. But there’s a difference between friends who are friends and friends who are family.

I’ve spent the past week–first in New York, then Washington, and finally Iowa, for the wedding–surrounded by the latter. And as thankful as I feel to have people in my life who are so so loving, so loyal and so affectionate (not to mention so good with a Sloop John B harmony), I can’t help but be reminded of how exhausting it can feel to spend the bulk of my time without them.

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On Finding One’s Place

I enjoy housesitting for the obvious, conventional reasons.

You know, the occasion to raid a fridge for everything approximating sugar, vinegar or sustenance. The chance to recline on a leather couch and watch cable. (Living, as I do, without a TV, I benefit from the occasional reminder that 900 options of channels quickly translates to a choice between Golden Girls and Bethany Geting Married?). The opportunity to pal around with a 120 lb. rottweiler named Fido whose most aggressive move is a mild effort at vertical elevation in those moments when he anticipates a (not-too-long) walk or a dropped morsel of breakfast burrito.

As I lazed around yesterday afternoon, alternating my attention between a short story collection, the dogs, and a marathon of America’s Next Top Model, I thought of yet another reason I enjoy it that I’ve never quite been able to articulate–one largely unrelated to sloth, gluttony or rottweilers.

Shock of shocks, what got me thinking was one of the stories. It was by the writer Pam Houston, with whom I got to take a workshop last weekend, in Taos. If you haven’t read her, do. She writes funny, insightful and heavily autobiographical fiction about being a smart and successful woman with chronically poor judgment about men. Imagine my interest.

I’ve been reading her second and lesser-known collection, “Waltzing the Cat,” in which all the stories are linked and have the same narrator. They deal with her misadventures finding a man, but also with her quest for place.

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Reliving College: Past, Present and Future

When I told people that I was going to attend my five year college reunion, I got a lot of reactions in the puzzled look/eye rolling department.

As in: really? You need to go to a reunion to see people you graduated with five years ago? That is practically minutes.

Well no, not really: my group of friends from college is actually really diligent about getting together at least annually, despite the distances separating us. We don’t actually need our alma mater to put up large booze-filled tents and arrange mediocre buffet spreads for us to see each other–but when the opportunity presents itself, who are we to turn it down?

And truthfully, in the scheme of our twenty-seven-odd years, five isn’t exactly insignificant. It’s practically one fifth of our lifetimes. Twenty-two to twenty-seven: a lot is supposed to happen in that time, isn’t it?

Well, having (barely) survived the weekend I am here to report: maybe, not really so much.

In the past year or so a few of my classmates have gone and gotten married. (Many of them, I should say, to each other.) More will follow in the coming months. We even identified a couple members of my class who may or may not be pregnant.

But for the most part, not much has changed.

Starting with the physical: a consensus emerged that the girls got hotter and the guys look the same. (As I’ll get into further at another time, the liberal arts man is a late blooming sort of species.)

But our lives haven’t changed that much, either: most people seem to be back in school. I don’t think that’s a bad thing: it illustrates the fact that we’re a pretty high-achieving bunch. Many of my peers are attending prestigious graduate programs in things like urban planning and health policy. There are a few fools who, like myself, are taking the MFA route. But it’s a recession: if you can get there, graduate school is the place to be.

So, as a group of childless, mostly single twenty-somethings still part of the academy, it wasn’t much of a stretch for us to re-enter the college bubble: staying in the dorms where we lived as freshmen, hanging out in large co-dependent clusters, having obnoxiously loud sing-alongs and staying up late drinking cheap beer.

(The main difference between college and reunion, it turns out, is the lack of supervision: the keg parties in the dorm courtyards felt completely condoned–if not outright organized by–the administration.)

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An Ode to Boys

One of the silliest things a guy has ever said to me was when I asked whether his ex-girlfriend and I were at all similar (a terrible, terrible question, I know): “No,” he said. “She’s a girl and you’re a woman.”

I wasn’t sure what to make of this–besides feeling uncomfortably, vaguely flattered and realizing that his propensity for cheesy commentary was easily exacerbated by red wine.

Frankly, I have no clue what separates “girls” from “women” in guys’ minds. (Thoughts welcome, fellas. I know you’re in double-digits now: out yourselves.)

At the moment, though, I am preoccupied with what separates “men” from “boys” in mine.

This largely stems from the fact that, the other day, my dad sent me an email in response to a post in which I used the term “boy.” (As in, S and I were “talking about boys.”)

“Didn’t you mean ‘men’?” he wrote. “Or am I missing something?”

I honestly hadn’t considered my word choice, which I wrote back and explained. And by way of daughterly edification, I added that many males my age are still, in fact, very much boys.

“That’s a pity,” he responded.

I laughed, and thought: yes. And then, no.

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