Sunday, June 14, 2009

Back Where it Began: A Retrospective

Fifteen years ago, as a high school junior, knowing nothing about college, my "guidance counselor", I use both guidance and counselor VERY loosely, printed out a list of colleges that supposedly fit my wants, which I probably made up. I am sure I was very casual about looking at said list, but when I saw the University of New Hampshire, it just sounded like the school for me. I knew nothing about it, nor did I know a thing about New Hampshire, but somehow, the name of the school shone like a beacon off the page, and I knew that was my school.

I know, had my "guidance counselor" guided or counseled me, she would have told me that a Jersey girl really had no business being in New Hampshire. First of all, it is a state university populated by people from New Hampshire who, for the most part, in my experience, are a special breed. (sorry Iz). Secondly, I thought they tahk funny...well, let me tell you, I tawked funny. Nonetheless, I am an Aries, I am Italian, and I am a Jersey girl-- I was going there.

Fast forward to fall of the following year, a rainy Halloween weekend, which should have turned me off from the campus because little did I know, if it wasn't cold enough to snow in Durham, it was rainy, but I saw Thompson Hall and again, my knowing was reaffirmed. I felt like I was in the movies - this is what a university was supposed to look like, like I was a new character in Gross Anatomy or With Honors. Brick buildings with columns and prestigious names like Hamilton Smith, Kingsbury, Philbrook - ok the last one is a dining hall, but don't you want to eat there?

Since leaving, I have totally glorified college. And this weekend, after Holly and I met up at Rye Beach for the day, we met up with Izzy on Main St., Durham, NH. For Holly and myself, it was the first time returning since we graduated, which according to her was in 1999. You would think that the Class of 2000 would resonate. It's kind of catchy. The school is not the campus that we reminisce about. There are hints of the UNH we knew, which lets us know we haven't completely fabricated our college experience, like Stoke Hall, our abode as sophomores, still looks very much like a Howard Johnson. But, sadly, it is not the campus that we left. In fact, we suggested(told) Izzy to meet us at the Tin Palace, the one bar at UNH that had patio seating. The place that the moment the weather was warm enough, you hoped you were lucky enough to know someone, who could get there earlier enough to get a table outside. And IF you were lucky enough, you didn't leave. Anyway, the point of the rant is that it isn't the Tin Palace anymore.

If it weren't abundantly clear that it had been a long time since we were students there, "Keanu", our waiter, let us know. After checking our IDs (a question which took me by surprise) he nodded his head up and down, gave us a goofy smile, and said, "Nice job ladies, you don't look THAT old." We weren't sure if this was a compliment, insult, or combination of the two. Hasn't anyone told him that 31 is the new 22?

But for all that was different, like the divey bar Libby's being a classy sit down restaurant, there were plenty of things that were the same. Namely, sitting at the Tin Palace, on a sunny Saturday, drinking a beer, with my two best friends, laughing out loud as though we really were 22.

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