I’ve spent a good part of my life on college campuses. First as the daughter of a professor, then for various summer camps and classes, then as a college student myself. Even now when I step onto a college campus, I feel a sense of peace and possibility. All those lush, well-tended grounds and important-looking buildings. Lecture halls and libraries, cafeterias and dorms, all teeming with young, intelligent people driven by their love of learning and wearing pajama pants in public.
We live near a university now, and this past weekend was move-in day for the freshmen. As far as the eye could see, there were cars piled high with milk crates and duffel bags, 18- and 19-year-olds clutching backpacks and books, criss-crossing the campus in pairs and small groups. Target, Walmart, and Bed Bath & Beyond were choked with parents and students snapping up bath towels and area rugs.
I felt a flutter of anxiety and excitement for these kids. I spotted a girl who would’ve been me – younger-looking than most, awkward, maybe a little unsure about what she was getting into but still happy to be there. On her own for the first time.
I remember going shopping with my mom to pick out towels and sheets. I may still have the faded, threadbare pink and turquoise linens in a closet somewhere. I was equally excited about the booklet of course offerings. Like a menu of exotic dishes, smelling of fresh ink and high-quality cardstock, it piqued my appetite with its descriptions of fascinating-sounding classes. Anthropology, art history, astronomy – I could fill a semester with the A’s alone.
And the school supplies… Is there anything better than a fresh notebook and a pack of brand-new pens? Don’t even get me started on the Post-It products.
After I saw those freshmen, I found myself buying a new shower curtain. Just for a change, to start the school year with something new. I came home and cleaned out my desk and my files. Swiped one of my first-grader’s new notebooks. (Not the Angry Birds one. I’m not that mean.)
I may have moved off campus, but I think there’s still some college girl left in me. I do love my pajama pants.
NEWS O’ THE DAY: Why should the kids reap all the back-to-school bounty? If you’re itching to learn something new and finally have some time for YOU now that summer’s over, I’d love to have you join me for my 6-week online writing class, Personal Essays that Get Published, which starts next Weds. Sept. 5 and goes through Oct. 17. Level 1 is open to writers of all levels, anywhere in the world. All you need is a computer and a desire to write about your life. For more info, go here. For testimonials and to sign up, go here.
For any PEGP Level 1 alums reading this, Personal Essays that Get Published: Level 2 — also beginning Sept. 5 — is only open to writers who’ve taken my first class. Level 2 covers issues faced by more advanced essay writers, like finding that elusive “universal truth,” using dialogue in essays, constructing a narrative arc, and dealing with rejection and criticism. This is the LAST TIME I will offer this class, so sign up ASAP if you want in!