I recently began following Chris Jaffe on Twitter. His claim to fame is that each day he tweets out a bunch of reasons why that date is significant. For example, here’s what his feed looked like this morning.
Anyway, a couple weeks back I noticed he mentioned that the Rolling Stones album Steel Wheels had been released exactly 25 years earlier. I’m not a huge fan of the Stones, but I immediately thought about what the singles were from that album. The first was “Mixed Emotions,” probably their last good song. And, as my brain tends to do, I tried to think of where that song fell in my life. That was easy: it was climbing the charts and in heavy rotation during my first weeks of college.
A little more checking and I figured that I went off to college on August 20, 1989. So I just passed the 25th anniversary of my first week of college.
Or, rather, it was the anniversary of my first week at college. I don’t know if dorms still open a week before classes, but back then we had Hawk Week, colloquially known as Country Club Week, where you moved into your residence, paid your tuition, picked up your books, dropped some more money at the bookstore on important things like t-shirts and sweatshirts, and otherwise spent a week doing a lot of nothing waiting for classes to begin. Well, nothing during the day. The lack of classes was an excuse to drink yourself silly each night.
That first night of college life was a big deal for me. Two good friends from high school were going to KU with me, but neither showed up until later in the week. I had a roommate from Nebraska who, after introducing himself, took off to hang out with some guys he knew from Omaha. Eventually I hooked up with some sophomores across the hall, who offered me a couple beers while we sat around and watched A Fish Called Wanda on someone’s tiny TV. While I didn’t become fast friends with that crew immediately, a significant chunk of them were people I stayed close with through college. A couple of them are still good friends to this day. So that was a pretty solid night.
My other memories of that week are just walking around campus, learning how the bus routes worked, and wondering when the hot girls looking for love would magically appear in my room.1 I had my first crush almost immediately, a nice girl who I became casual friends with but never liked me as much as I wanted her to.2 Amazingly, there’s a shirt up in my dresser that I bought that week that I still wear regularly, although the sleeves were long ago cut off and it’s just worn for mowing the lawn or working out at home.
It’s crazy for me to think about M. being 10 and me having been a primary caregiver for a decade. But then to think that it’s been 25 years since I started college is crazier still.