Now that our children are older and require decidedly fewer annoying accoutrements, the husband and I have made a conscious effort to try to do more things with them. It’s much easier to navigate through all the awesome things we have at our fingertips here in Toronto without needing strollers and bottles and sippy cups and diapers and pacifiers. We can walk out of the house with nothing but the clothes on our backs and the money in our pockets. It’s pretty liberating, I must say. Last week, we got an invitation to come to our alma mater’s homecoming football game. And even though I never went to a single football game while I was actually attending said alma mater, we decided that the weather was perfect, the promise of free cookies and drinks was enticing and well, we love Friday Night Lights, so even though it wasn’t NFL football, we were game. (see what I did there?)
The gameâ€”even though the Lions lost by am embarrassingly high number, and even though Canadian football teams play with only three downs (WHY?)â€”was ridiculous fun. The kids got tattoos and face paint and bang sticks. We cheered, we booed. Emily finally learned the rules of football.
I wondered why I didn’t do this when I was actually, you know, in college.
But you see, college for me was kind of a strange experience.
Back before Seth and Summer competed for that one coveted spot. Back before any of the van der Woodsens even uttered the school name. Back before Norah and her playlist were accepted there. I applied early and waited and waited and waited on the Brown waiting listâ€¦but by the time I got in, Brown was so far from my mind. You see, I was off pulling a Felicity and following a boy to Canada, and not Rhode Island. But, you know, thereâ€™s really no use in even talking to a strong-willed, exceptionally stubborn 18-year-old girl. So, I didnâ€™t have the ivy-filled, sorority-filled college experience I had dreamed about for my entire childhood. I raced through college to get to the next stage in my life; to be a wife, to be a mother, to be a writer. And donâ€™t get me wrong, I did all of those things and I am so glad I did. My life at 33 is fabulous, even though it wasnâ€™t necessarily where I thought I would be at 33.
So, yes. I raced through my entire post-high-school experience. I lived off campus with two girls who I didn’t really even take the time to get to know. Our apartment was cockroach-infested, so I rarely spent more time than necessary there. It was the library or the classroom, for me. I didn’t go to a single sports activity. NOT ONE. In fact, until this weekend, I could not have even told you that we were THE LIONS. My hard work paid off, as I was able to complete both my BA and my MA in four years and I graduated about 5 days before Miss Emily was born. (Bonus points for being a planner!)
But as I sat in the stands watching the herds of college girls, I had an inner twinge of regret. I’m angry for not allowing myself to enjoy this experience. I’m angry that all I did was study and work and work and study. I didn’t get enough out of it. The experience is about getting so much more than a diploma.
I want to go back. I have the diplomas. Now I want the more.