I went back last week. Back to college. I hadn’t been back there in a while. I wish I didn’t go back there.
The second my tires rolled onto the pavement, I remembered graduation. I wore heels that looked like banana peels. I smiled a lot but I wasn’t happy. I forgot my diploma on a bench. I didn’t want to leave that place because everyone told me that college was the best four years of your life.
That’s a lie.
I spent Friday afternoon sitting on the bench I left my diploma on, people watching. Students on skateboards, reading textbooks, drinking Frappuccinos with enough calories in them that my almost thirty year old self couldn’t burn off with three gym classes.
I went back to my sorority house. Talked with the girls in the house now. Age 18. Age 19. Age “Does it even matter? Let’s drink.”
All I wanted to do was yell, yell at every single person & say:
YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.
“It” being this college thing.
I thought of all the things I wish I did differently – then. Maybe I would have cared less about getting a 3.6 GPA. Maybe I wouldn’t have sat at a cubicle for two summers in a row interning at magazines that made me PAY THEM to intern. Maybe I would have started a business. Maybe I wouldn’t have cried over failed friendships with people I only knew for three months.
Maybe, I imagined, I wouldn’t do anything differently – because maybe we are supposed to make mistakes the exact way we make them – at that exact time.
I didn’t say anything to anyone I met. Who am I to preach to them? Plus, when “older” people tried to tell me things at age 18, I laughed.
But I wondered this, as I sat on the bench I left my diploma on, eye balling new buildings that popped up on campus, new restaurants that made their mark, new people living out an adventure on the soil of a place I once called home for only four years of my life – that maybe it is best not to go back to the places that are different than how we left them and instead go on pretending that they are exactly the same.
That way, we don’t have to get ourselves riled up over the rumbles of if only we could do this all again.
Because we can’t.
We never can.
Unless we’re Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed.