Working on a college campus keeps me young. Yes, I realize I am automatically old by even uttering those words, but I get to see the hip new trends (not that I ever really adopt them) and reminisce about my college years on a regular basis. I work with students everyday who are so intelligent and amazing that I feel like such a loser sometimes when I think back on my college experience.
But then I think back about all the amazing times I DID have, and I am so honored to have experienced them. I was a timer for the men’s swim team and met some of my best friends and witnessed some amazing swimming. I was a lifeguard and was happy to work on campus for several semesters. I was a nanny to a family that became my second mother for a while. I switched majors to creative writing from advertising and made some awesome contacts, mentors and friends who shared my love of Chaucer, Shakespeare and transcendentalism. I wasn’t captain of this club or a member of eight honor societies but I sure felt involved most days.
But besides walking across the stage (I almost missed it too bc of being late!) my most favorite thing about college is the friends I made. Many today are my lifelong friends and others have come and gone. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about friendships and relationships and why some work and some don’t. And why some aren’t the same after many years no matter how hard you try to hold on to them.
It’s weird when we hit our mid-30s and have kids and try to find a balance between hanging out with couples, single friends, friends with kids and no spouse, couples with no kids, friends from various groups. Sometimes it feels so effortless to make fun happen, and other times it feels like a delicate dance to keep people happy. It has made me wonder if we hang onto relationships bc we feel like we always thought we’d be friends forever. Like the friend we met in first grade, our neighbor, our church friend or our best friend from high school. I tend to compare new friends sometimes with friends of old and feel like perhaps bc someone didn’t know me during this time of my life, they don’t truly know who I am. But then I think about my husband, who is quite easily my best friend, and how he knows most of me through story only.
Thankfully for him I can be an animated storyteller, but he did not know me in high school singing in church plays or playing basketball or my swimming days. He did not know me in college, going to poetry readings, concerts, parties, pondering the meaning of life at 2am over Vic and Bills burgers. He wasn’t part of my Tennessee pride and therefore doesn’t sing Rocky Top quite as loudly as I do. But he WILL sing it, and he WILL withstand the endless stories that I tell.
So maybe it’s okay that people don’t know me from all walks of life. And maybe friends I make today represent where I am in my life now whereas some friends represent where I was 10 or 20 years ago. In middle school I had friends who loved new kids on the block. In high school, it was friends who liked playing music, eating at Stax, were in my classes and swam on swim team. In college, I may have bonded with someone over a shared love of fiction or music and today it might be the same wine or baby product (the juxtaposition of those two are rather interesting wouldn’t you say!). But I’m thinking that it’s okay if things shift and we all change. It happens.
Thinking about my son, I now know that he will know an entirely different version of me. I will probably be ANYONE but me to him, ha ha, because he will know me as mother, teacher, disciplinarian and hopefully the definition of unconditional love. But then again, maybe that is who I am today. At least a part of me. But he might not know all the stories and secrets that others do. And I’m okay with that. Our souls can be easily divided into chunks of time and pieces of who we are and once were, and I think that is what makes us whole.