But I can be the teensiest bit melodramatic.
And occasionally I find myself beating you over the head with my nostalgic sentimentality.
But four years after the start of my first week of college, and on the precipice of a very different chapter in my life, I’m feeling nostalgically sentimental.
You’ve been warned.
Freshman Year: Day 1
I woke up in a room that was both disquietingly familiar, having spent summer camp in these rooms just a month ago, and utterly unknown.
I swung my legs over the side of the bed, expecting to feel solid ground, but finding only air. That tingly, edge-of-a-cliff feeling shot up from my feet, and I sat up. My bed was officially too high. I searched with my toes until I found the faux velvet doo-dad I had used to get up the night before, one of those weird furniture pieces people have created solely for dorm rooms, the kind that can be step ladder, chair, table, nightstand, and storage container simultaneously.
I looked over at my coffee maker, both unsure how to work it, and unsure about whether or not I liked coffee. So instead, I settled for making some instant oatmeal in my firey-red microwave. Sitting down on the floor with my disposable bowl, I looked around the room: my desk lamp was there, along with my clothes and pictures. But it all seemed foreign in the stuffed, unsustainably organized, overly bright caricature of my bedroom.
I ran my fingers through my tangled hair, absentmindedly, still surprised when it ended just below my ears. The College Cut. I was one cliche down already.
Just before two, I grabbed the lanyard that held my name tag/ schedule (because I am someone who believes in name tags and, especially, in schedules), and set off across the rain-soaked pavement, forced-friendly smile firmly in place. I met the swell of freshmen bottlenecking outside the doors of Moody, and waited as the tide carried me inside.
I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t the cacophony awaiting us inside the coliseum: the aisle of cheering student leaders, the pounding music, the upperclassmen celebrating pep-rally style from the stands. The excitement was contagious and the noise, palpable. Purple and white balloons rained down on us, forming puddles around our feet as we looked up, searching for the sign that matched our name tag.
And there it was, H3, half way up the stands, held up in the air by a man wearing an orange jumpsuit and a gorilla mask*.
And so began Welcome Week.
That night I would skip the freshman movie and return to room 315, feeling profoundly lonely, wondering how everyone seemed to have friends already.
I had no idea that the guy in the argyle sweater I had hugged during the “give someone a hug, give a hug next to you”** song would be a groomsman in my wedding. Or that the goofy boy who sat across from me in our Mentor Group circle (and introduced himself as Duper Dave) would be the one to slip a ring on my finger. I didn’t know that I would finally see the movie I had skipped, three years later with a group of precious middle schoolers near the Mexico border. And I didn’t know that two of my future roommates were just down the hall.
I couldn’t have guessed that I wouldn’t find a church that felt like home for another year and half. And I had no idea how good and how sweet and how gracious that place would be when I found it.
No, I sat in my small bright room, next to a coffee maker I couldn’t work, across from a roommate I didn’t yet know, and I think I read my chemistry textbook, nerd that I am. With so many good, beautiful, painful, grace-filled, theology-changing, world view-shifting moments waiting just beyond the edge of my sight.
*It has been pointed out to me by said goofy boy that he was actually wearing a red jumpsuit and an Optimus Prime mask. Memory is a tricky, tricky thing.
**Has anyone ever written out the words to that song before? They make no sense.