Alma Mater

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.

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