Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Always in the springtime and early summer I get a little nostalgic for my college days. It's probably because everyone is graduating and I see all the commercials on the TV, but there's this certain smell in the air, when you know it's really almost summer, and school is out... something to do with freshly cut grass and the wind. I can't really describe it - I just know when I smell it that summer has come and school is out until next year.*

It makes me think of my college days most frequently, although there are times when I smell that smell and remember summers in high school, taking trips to the lake, driving down the highway with the windows down because our cars had no a/c, lying out in the grass and holding very still to see if we could feel the earth move. In college my dorm (one of) had one of those trees with the pinky-white blossoms (is it a cherry tree? not sure) out front, and it was the happiest sight for me. I loved that tree. When I see or smell things like these, I wish I was back in college.

Things were so much better then! There was the total freedom to go where you wanted, do what you wanted, when you wanted, with whom you wanted, and nobody to answer to but yourself. Added to that the complete absence of responsibility and it's a heady feeling. Sure, we had the responsibility to do our work, get good grades, maintain scholarships, make our families proud, but no career, no family of our own, no life insurance/mortgage/lawnmower... the freedom I felt back then was amazing. Plus, I was hot! Before the baby, before the deflated breasts, before the stomach skin that won't ever regain its elasticity, no matter how many crunches I do, before the pregnancy acne that left scars on my previously flawless skin, I was one good-looking college chick. I had a car - two doors, no carseats. It was black and sporty. I went to parties. I talked about politics with the president of the College Republicans, for pete's sake! (He was my sparring partner - we loved to argue. What an arrogant jackass he was!) I stayed up late, and slept in late. I ate junk food and fast food. I watched sitcoms and bad movies. I had friends to go places with and do things with. And always, there was that tantalizing freedom... such a sense of possibility.

Now, I work (a lot) in a career I love, but it can be very draining. I'm always tired at the end of the day, but I wouldn't give it up for anything. I like taking care of people and helping them - that's a lot of what teachers do, I think. I have a Husband who can be irritating in the extreme, but also a Prince Among Men when he wants to be. He and I have both changed since our young single days, and I think sometimes we're both a little disappointed that marriage is not as glamourous as we once thought it would be. We have a Bear, and she takes up all of our time these days. Anything remotely fun or exciting we might want to do is put off indefinitely because of her. We've now reached the point when I invite Husband to go grocery shopping with us, just so the three of us can spend some "family time" together. There are too many bills and not enough money. There are dreams we had when we were younger that seem so distant now, it feels like we'll never be able to achieve them. And we're tired - so tired.

Don't get me wrong... I love Husband and Bear, and I wouldn't get rid of them even if I could. We're a family, and that's such a nice comforting thing to have. It's just that sometimes, when the weather is just right, I don't want to be a grown-up anymore. I want to do a little "Quantum Leap" thing back to my old apartment and my old roommates, and I want to open up the kitchen windows on a steamy summer evening and drink a cheap beer and not worry about anything for ten whole minutes.

*That's why I became a teacher - for the joy of the first day of school/last day of school. I love the cycle! (Just kidding. That would be a dumb foundation for a career, although I *will* admit to a well-fed fetish for school supplies.)


julie said...

That's funny, I always get nostalgic for my school days in the FALL, when the air is crisp and smells like leaves. I can't wait until my daughter is old enough to need school supplies like watercolors and glue. (I already gave her some crayons, with mixed results. She colored the paper and the high chair tray, and then I turned around and she colored her face. Black. Inside and outside her mouth.)

Jane said...

Oh, I love the fall, too. Pencil and paper smells always get me, and that crispness in the air.

Husband swears he's going to let the Bear paint on the walls with fingerpaints. I don't really think it's such a hot idea. I can distinctly remember coloring all the walls in my playroom when I was about three...

julie said...

Well, is the Bear going to be painting in the new place or the old place? The new residents of your old house might appreciate some original artwork -- who wouldn't, really?

Amy said...

This is one of the first years that I haven't been nostalgic for college (I graduated in 2001). My best friend from school and I still talk a lot and she's still in recent-grad mode--living in San Francisco with roommates and applying to grad school in the fall. She can't get over the fact that I'm not only now married, but contemplating both child and house #2.

Geez I feel old all of a sudden.


I'm glad to hear that crunches won't help the tummy skin--I won't bother trying, then.

Jane said...

No, nothing helps the tummy skin; I've given it up as a lost cause. I feel like an elephant sometimes, with all that extra skin - or one of those wrinkly puppies!

All of our friends are still single, dating, living in the city, working at jobs with hourly wages rather than salaries... we were the first to marry, the first to have a child. It's interesting to see the different perspectives we have on life. But, for the most part, they don't get nostalgic for the "good old days" because for them, the "good old days" are the present. Sometimes I feel like I'm so much older than all of them, even though I was always the youngest of the group!