This weekend, I took my first trip to Chapel Hill as an alumna. I spent four (three and a half) years there as a student. I found The Whispering Bench and Gimghoul Castle. I met some amazing authors. Heck, I’ve met some amazing people period.
I love wearing Carolina Blue.
In honor of the occasion, I bought a new shirt that says, “The Alma Mater is all that matters.” at Johnny T Shirts. I also went to He’s Not Here, this iconic bar at Chapel Hill. I only went once when I was actually in school. I’m glad I went. I felt like I was part of a tradition, and I had a very satisfying, slightly buzzed conversation with the person I went with. And sometimes I think I missed out on things I could have been doing in college.
The more I think about it, the more I think that’s wrong. I mean, I did go to a frat party, and I did spend one (and only one) night “bar-hopping.” (Okay, I went to He’s Not Here and this other bar called The Library that I had wanted to go to since I was a freshman because I’m a giant book nerd.) I’m glad I got to experience those things. But, all in all, they aren’t me.
My college experience was more about how many amazing authors I met, the Mark D. Sanders performance I saw in Graham Memorial, the GISHWHES I almost failed at, every omelet I had in Rams Head Diner, and the crazy walk I made with Katie, through ice and snow, to get to Chipotle. There are the people I met and still talk to, and the people I only got to have a few great and powerful conversations with. There was that creative writing class with the professor I hated that I dropped mid semester, and all of the ones with professors I loved.
Sometimes I worry that those really were the best years of my life. I worry that I’ve “peaked.” I was spending my days writing because I “had” to, seeing people who made me happy, and taking random trips because the mood struck. Freshman year, I went to DC for a weekend on twenty bucks. I slept on the floor of some guy I had only met once, but I had a great time. And a lot of what I want for my life is what I already had in college: lots of reading and writing, lunch with good friends, talking to published authors (and good ones too. ahem), cultural shows, and lots of opportunities to try new things. That’s what I want in my life. That level of independence and freedom and my main job being writing. That’s it.
That being said…I’m going to go work on my novel now.