Back to School Memories

by Ginger on August 20, 2013

in Becoming Myself

Back to school was always an odd mixture of excitement and fear. I was that kid who LOVED (most parts of) actual school. I looked forward to buying the school supplies, meeting my teachers, finding out what we were going to read and study that year. But I also was a shy kid, and not the most popular (I wasn’t UNpopular, I was just…invisible a lot of the time. Neither here nor there), so there was always angst about things like who was I going to sit with at lunch & would anyone talk to me & all those good fun things. Some of that got better as I got older, and once I got into marching band, some of those things definitely fell to the wayside, but still. Nerve-wracking.

I also had the added bonus of having my birthday fall on or around the first day/week of school. Some years that was more problematic than others, which is where we pick up one of my most, uh, memorable back to school memories.

It was my freshman year of college. I was going to school 4.5 hours away from home–away from my family, away from my friends, away from my boyfriend. I was excited, I was. I had fallen in love with University of Arizona the minute I had set foot on the campus a little less than a year earlier, and I was sure I was going to make it my home. And I had finished a week of band camp, so I had had some time in Tucson and on campus before the full mass of students and professors descended on the place. I hadn’t really made any friends yet. I was friendly with other colorguard folks, but I was a shy freshman, and mostly just put my head down and did what was asked of me. My roommate, while a lovely girl, was already showing herself to be a social butterfly, so between her social life and my rehearsal schedule, we had spent maybe an hour or two together. The night before classes started, she was out late & I went to bed with a bundle of nerves.

That Monday, when my alarm went off, I looked around my dorm room, with the Navajo White cinderblocks, dorm furniture, and my “life” stuffed in what amounted to a 10 x 10 space. I thought about my first classes that day with trepidation. I felt homesick, and afraid, and overwhelmed, and lonely.

And oh, yeah, it was my 18th birthday.

It was probably the hardest birthday, and one of the hardest back to schools, I ever had. I spent a lot of the day completely overwhelmed, but mostly I was homesick. I missed being around people who I knew and who knew me. I hated not having any friends to spend my birthday with. I struggled, struggled, struggled that day with my decision to go to school in a place where I knew no one and where the nearest person who could give me a hug was a good 3 hours away. I felt like I had made a terrible mistake. And I will tell you, I have never ever ever been happier to get a phone call from my mom than I did that day. I think, if I remember correctly, that I went to bed crying that night, completely sure I’d screwed up my entire life. (What? I was 18, you think I was SENSIBLE?)

I woke up the next day in a much better place, and as I went on to say in the post I linked to earlier, UofA became my home in a lot of ways. I ended up loving my time there, which is perhaps a good lesson that just because something starts out hard or unpleasant doesn’t mean it’s not going to be something amazing.

But that first day back to school? Yeah, I’m not sure I’ll ever forget it.


Prompt from Bring Back the Words, Week 10

Tragic Sandwich August 21, 2013 at 9:01 am

I turned 18 midway through my freshman year of college, and as the day approached, realized that I had no plans, and no one who could be expected to remember it was my birthday. And I was kind of sad. I knew people, but I didn’t have close friends yet. Also, it was in Winter Quarter, so going away to college had lost its new car smell.

So I was blown away when two girls on my dorm floor made me a balloon banner with “Happy Birthday” written on it, one letter per balloon. Another gave me a coffee mug that she’d packed with single-serve coffee and chocolate. Yet another gave me a stuffed bear.

It was a really lovely birthday. I’m sorry yours wasn’t–but I’m glad the school wound up being perfect for you!

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