Last week, I was in the car on a Friday night, headed to the mountains for some family time. About halfway into the four-hour drive and a third of the way through my road trip playlist, I drove directly by my college town. To my genuine surprise, as I passed the familiar exits and the nearby silhouette of campus, I got emotional. It was like I was an old fucking lady remembering the joys of her youth, and it was both depressing and bittersweet.
Part of this is because despite the fact that I graduated back in 2014, I stayed in my college town another three years while my fiancée got her degree in veterinary medicine. So in total, I spent seven years learning the ins and outs of my college town. First as an idiot undergraduate and then as an idiot ordinary employed citizen.
With her still being in school, I basically got to join in on an extended three years of college life, minus the schoolwork. I continued to drink more than is typically recommended for an adult no longer in college, and I spent a lot of hungover Tuesdays pretending to type and waiting until my boss went home so I could leave work early and head to that night’s pregame. Essentially, I never really left college behind.
Finally this spring, it was time to go. I moved just a couple of months ago to a brand new city for the first time in seven years, and now, I feel like I’ve graduated.
I’ve been working full-time for the past three odd years, but I never felt like a full-fledged adult. I was still going to pub crawls, themed holiday parties, and beer pong tournaments every weekend (and some weekdays). I was crawling into work on Wednesdays after Hot Tub Tuesdays which resulted in me drinking wine like water and realizing that I much prefer beer hangovers. Friday evenings were spent at any one of our favorite pubs downtown, and in the morning the nearest libraries and coffee shops were all stocked with our friends who would wake up early to study so they could make it to slosh ball that afternoon. It was college extended, and it was glorious. Waking up from that dream was difficult. Things are just different now that I can’t walk down the street and run into twelve people I know, at least seven of which are currently headed to the same bar I am.
I didn’t realize how much I would be affected by leaving my college town behind. I knew it was coming, I knew that graduation day was approaching for my fiancée, but I was unprepared for how much it would feel like my graduation day, too. I had to finally say goodbye to the town that I knew inside and out.
I’d spent four years biking from one end of the college campus to the other, and then three more getting to know the ins and outs of the town itself in a completely different way than when you’re in undergrad and just looking for the club you black out in three times a week. I spent warm summer nights at backyard bonfires with dogs I knew as well as their owners. I drank more beer and took fewer shots than I did in undergrad thanks to the tutelage of my guy friends, a lesson I’ll forever be grateful for. I still wake up on Saturdays wondering why no one has called us yet asking what time brunch is, and then I remember that it’s over.
And here I am, at a great new job in a cool new city, but something is missing. I’m starting over again, and college is officially over. It’s hard, but I’m adjusting. The one constant in this life is change, and there’s nothing to do but embrace it. This new town is full of cool people and great bars, too– and it’s time to start finding new favorites.
So goodbye, college town. Goodbye to my favorite bartender who knew me by name, the house I proposed in, the tiny apartment I lived in with my best friends when our bodies could still handle Burnett’s and orange juice three nights a week. Goodbye to the place I met the love of my life, the restaurant we met at on our first date, the campus that became more like a second home.
It’s time to let go..
Image via Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com