The text rolls in with a request for my presence and I respond with an affirmative and a promise to be there in 40 minutes or so.
I am rolling down the highway in a caravan of F-150s careful not to let my speed drop below 85 because I don’t want to be rear ended.
Call my daughter from 10 minutes out and tell her to meet me in front of her dorm so that we can make a quick run for some more necessities.
Dad’s wallet is open and the girl is encouraged to take advantage and so she does. The purchases add up but sometimes the best road to success is the one that is paved.
That is the purpose of some of these purchases, to help pave that road.
We walk across campus towards one of the local dining halls and she says she doesn’t know if they’ll let me in.
I smile and say it won’t be an issue and it is not.
She swipes her card and I shmooze with some of the maintenance guys about the change in campus.
“When June comes back we’re going to have so much good stuff to sort through. You can’t believe what these kids leave behind when they move out.”
I nod and smile and wander back towards my daughter.
“Turns out my roommate didn’t go home, she just texted me about grabbing dinner.” I smile and tell her I’ll be on my way out.
“Might drive by my old apartment, it is about 15 minutes away. Love that neighborhood and the memories.”
She gives me a hug, thanks me for my help and I wander cross campus back to my car.
The feel on the campus is familiar but different. Classes won’t start for a week, sorority rush is in full bore and there are guys doing stupid crap that is obviously intended to get the attention of the groups of girls.
It doesn’t take any effort to remember what this felt like when I was a younger man but the familiar feeling only goes so far because I see children.
Almost every one of the students looks like a baby to me and even some of younger professors look…young.
I expect I look as old to them all as they look young to me.
Nothing wrong with any of that, just interesting to me how perspective changes over time.
I expect that if I were to take a class or two I would probably be a much better student now than I was then.
Today I would take it all more seriously and not rely upon an ability to consume large amounts of information in short amounts of time.
It also helps that real world experience makes it much easier for me to see what has practical application, what doesn’t and to discern what fits personal interest and passion.
If I were back in school now it would be because I wanted to and not because I had to.
During my college years I went because it was what you did and because I wanted to. Given that I wasn’t certain what sort of job I wanted it provided more options.
That wasn’t a bad thing, but I spent too much time worrying about not knowing what I really wanted to do.
I had a couple of things that were of interest but I wasn’t sure they were going to be it. Wasn’t sure they would fulfill an inner need.
That was ultimately why I passed on law and medicine. I never doubted my ability to pass tests and whatever coursework was required but I thought I needed more passion.
Today I am doing something I never expected to and pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy it all. Helps that I am good at it, but that is not the sole thing that drives me.
It is a combination of factors that make me feel as if I use multiple skills on the daily. It is a mix of storytelling, creativity, problem solving and learning.
More proof that sometimes life takes you in some pretty interesting directions that you might not have planned in going in.
It Is All Relative
Halfway to my car I hear two guys talking about fraternities and become the old guy who inserts himself into a conversation.
“Fraternities have earned some of the nasty things that people have said about them. They have done some pretty dumb stuff but you can find examples of stupidity in other groups of people too.
The four years as an active are the smallest part of fraternity life. The majority are the years spent as part of the alumni. Don’t pick a house based on who has the best athletes, hottest girls or anything like that.
Focus on values and friendship.”
Don’t know if they took it to heart or rolled their eyes at the old guy. I could tell you stories about the night we had in that picture above and so many others.
But two out of those three guys have been part of almost every major life experience of the last three decades and they are not the only ones.
Told my daughter again that rushing isn’t important and that you can find great friends without it.
Told her not to live in safe spaces where her thoughts and beliefs are never challenged. That is part of the college experience, exploring thoughts and ideas.
Got to the car and thought about it all on the way back. Heard the guy talk about what happens when June comes back, the energy in that cafeteria, picking out a backpack at the student store and a million other things.
Gave me so many ideas, I could write stories for you everyday.
Still trying to figure out how the years passed so quickly, someone get Neil deGrasse Tyson on the phone– I need to review the science.