It’s graduation time for many of you; that time when you’re on the precipice of everything, and when the world holds so much promise.
I remember my graduation fairly well. All of us were decked out in those royal blue gowns, tassels shimmying in the sun. We were all so excited like it was Christmas morning. We all swarmed around our favorite friends and teachers on the football field like excited bees near their hive. Afterwards, we threw our caps into the air in exultation. Free at last!
Back then we were wondering what the future would hold, pretending we’d still be good friends with all our buddies from class, and hoping things wouldn’t change too much. Of course, they always do. Boyfriends find new girlfriends. You morph into a different person, and you are sometimes slapped in the face with the difficulty of being in college.
Summer provided the break between the bliss of NHHS and the great beyond. I got rid of my virginity that summer, surprised that I didn’t feel all that much different, except that I could now say I wasn’t a virgin anymore; a rite of passage for anyone who grew up during the 70’s.
I studied at Valley College for the summer, taking a class in anthropology to keep myself busy, be around people, and whet my appetite for UCSB where I was headed in the fall. I was excited being there even though it wasn’t very far from home, because it gave me a chance to be around other like-minded students who believed that higher education was a move in the right direction. For most of us, it was.
In fall, I started at UCSB, staying in the dorms my first year and rooming with a very religious student who was also Catholic. Why they would put me with a woman like this was quite beyond me. I was far more interested in “socializing” than studying, evidenced by her incessant knocking on our dorm room so she could crack the books. As you may have guessed, I was usually “busy.”
A few of my pals from NHHS also attended UCSB, and we fostered a bond that first year, using our friendship to provide a common home base, and to fend off homesickness. Some people had a hard time being away from their hometown, but others like me loved being away, making new friends, and testing the limits of self-restraint. One of my NHHS pals transferred to Berkeley as she claimed UCSB was “too sunny.”
During our breaks from school, I’d usually come home to see my pals, former boyfriends, and visit with my family. But as time progressed, these relationships naturally faded, and new friendships took their place. The ebb and flow of people is all part of the college experience.
I wish all of you who are graduating, or know someone graduating the best of luck. The economy isn’t very favorable right now, making jobs a bit more problematic. But the lessons I learned in college remain forever embedded in my psyche, and have helped me endure some of the hardships I’ve had to endure throughout the years.
To me, going off to school was one of the best times of my life. Back then, I didn’t have to contend with finding a job, dealing with house payments, parenting, or having to interview with bosses who often make your life a challenge.
Enjoy your school years while you can, and Happy Summer to all of you!