Recently, my friends and I were discussing what we were going to do after graduation. Instead of talking about the future, the conversation turned to the past. We wondered: “What year of college did we think was best?”
While everyone else thought that senior year was the best, I stuck by freshman year, that magical year when living in a 9×12 room was heaven. I can definitely see their argument for senior year, which runs like a year-long Welcome Week and is so full of fun and so without homework that it almost prepares you for your departure from the University. Almost.
I suppose that I was in the minority for my choice because I loved living in Markley. I loved the fact that I could walk upstairs to eat, visit my friends at four in the morning or feel like I owned a PlayStation 2 because some kid down the hall had one. Freshman year was the only year that friends could be made simply by asking someone if you could eat with them or telling someone that you liked a poster in their room.
In many cases, it was the only year that you would truly be friends with those people — as it was before you moved in together or lost contact with them, either way realizing that while they may like “Swingers,” they’re otherwise pretty weird. There’s nothing like a sink full of dishes and an apartment full of garbage to make you wonder why things can’t be more like they were freshman year.
Freshman year is a time for firsts. A walk through the Arb, a pizza from Bell’s, ice cream from Stucchi’s, a football game, a broomball game or a movie at the State Theater. All are great and definitely worth doing over and over, but they can never again be as special as they were the first time you experienced them and thought, “I’ve got to come back here again.” In freshman year, you eat at Bell’s without the thought that it could be your last time.
Some people say that senior year is the best because you are old enough to go to the bar and have the free time to do so. While the bar is indeed a blast — at least it was when Mitch’s was ope —, even it has trouble competing with the fun of watching “Zoolander” for the 11th time with 12 people crammed into a dorm room in the early hours of the morning.
As a senior, you don’t have to deal with the embarrassment of traveling in a herd of 30 in search of the rumor of a party on a street no one in the group has ever heard of. But while you may miss out on the embarrassment, you also miss out on the privilege of walking the streets with 29 other people, none of whom care if they find the party because walking aimlessly is fun enough.
I met all my friends in my freshman year at sign-ups for intramural soccer, when we all jumped at the chance to play for Big Blue. Later that year, we signed up for broomball and the highlight of our season was walking at 1:40 in the morning to Yost in the freezing cold to play a game. As we headed out for our 1:20 game this year, we tried and failed to remember the score of that game freshman year. But everyone remembered the walk — where we laughed, skipped, sung and did our best to feel like we were young and in college.
This is Adam’s last column for Weekend Magazine. He’ll be graduating soon, and hopefully moving on to better things. He would like to thank Doug Wernert for everything, including “Ed” reruns on TBS. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.