Saturday, August 27, 2011

Back to School Memories

I have been trying to get a post out for days now. The words just don't want to go from my brain to my fingers to you. I have lots to say, just no energy to put forth the effort. I wanted to share the family reunion with you, and I will do so soon.

When my dear blogging friend, Diane, and others were talking on Facebook this week about leaving their kids at college, far away from home, I naturally went in my mind to my first week-end at Bethany Nazarene College, (now Southern Nazarene University) in Oklahoma.

My home was in Omaha, Nebraska, which was 700 miles from Bethany, Oklahoma. I had been counting the days for two years, ever since I had visited the campus as a junior in high school. I wrote about the process of getting to college in this post.

But the Facebook posts about taking kids to school and leaving them there brought these memories flashing forward. I was the first chick to leave the nest, the eldest of five. The long trip south was the first time I'd been alone with my parents since I was 11 months and two weeks old and my sister was born. I don't actually remember much about the trip itself, nor do I remember the specifics of what we did all week-end. I do remember lugging all my belongings up to the third floor of a very old, very hot,, un-air-conditioned dorm. This was before the days when the college or university had special programs for parents to help them with the adjustment process of leaving their children on their own.

One of my favorite spots on campus - taken in 1964 during the first visit. The flame is always burning. The flowers are beautiful around the torch. But the main reason I love it is the graduation tradition. All the graduates gather in a circle around the area, which is (or was at that time) the center of the campus. Everyone holds a portion of the ivy ring. The president of the university then cuts the ties to the university and sends the graduates out - except for married couples who are graduating. Then he leaves theirs intact between the two of them, cutting on either side of them as a couple.

Getting settled in the room, meeting my roommate, "bath mates" (terrible term for the girls who shared the bathroom between our two rooms), and the girls down the hall was fun. I'll never forget the cute little three-year-old boy who came into my room and began chatting with me. He was from Texas and with his cute little drawl he told me that his big sissie was moving in down the hall. She came down looking for him, we struck up our first conversation, and went on to become fast friends - which included double and triple dating that freshman year. I recently connected with Vivian on Facebook, and would love to see her again someday.

I remember going to church with my folks that Sunday morning - the church seemed so huge at that time. In the afternoon, it was time for my parents to head back home. We'd had lunch and we were up on my floor, where I was networking like crazy. They were getting ready to go down to the car and I was saying "so long!" Suddenly I realized that I should probably walk down to the car with them. I had been completely unaware, clueless, and insensitive to their feelings about leaving their firstborn behind and heading north. I was having such a great time beginning the fulfillment of my dream of getting there that I was shocked to find my mom crying.

I had very few moments of homesickness during those 4 years - which is not to say that I didn't love "home" or my parents. I just think that when you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, that's the way it should be. I looked forward to letters - the written kind that appeared in my mailbox in the Student Union. Over the next two years, my brother and sister became students there, too, so the trips to and from school became more complicated. We shared a mailbox - whoever got there first read the letter, initialed the envelope, and put it back for the next one. We had very very few phone calls over the years, because that cost way too much. The only moment of aching homesickness I remember feeling my freshman year was on my birthday - I was only 17 when I started college, and turned 18 less than a month later. It was Homecoming back in my high school that same night, so I was kind of missing that for a few brief moments.

Well, that was a fun trip down memory lane - I hope you enjoyed coming along with me.


Amy said...

Thanks for sharing!

Needled Mom said...

It is fun to take that journey down memory road with you. I loved the technique of reading a letter from home!!! Very clever.

Glenda said...

I enjoyed hearing about your BNC days. I have several friends who attended there . . . and our pastor's daughter is a sophomore there now.

Hope you have a great Sunday and following week!

Sammy said...

Great post! I love when you do these trips down memory lane. Your writing is so clear and descriptive that I can see it all.

I didn't think about my parents' feelings when I went to college either. But now I practically weep when I think of my boys leaving the nest.

HOOTIN' ANNI said...

I just had to stop by and send along a biggo Texas "howdy do" to my sweet Coloradoan. What a lovely memory you've shared. Of course I always enjoy your posts so much. You know that.

You say it's one of your favorite spots on campus, but you don't explain, I'm askin' "Why"? Is it just the tranquility of the area perhaps? Or maybe a good place to sit and read in the quiet? Do tell. [ps...I got a big kick out of the time frame count of when it was the first/last time you're "alone" with your parents]

Hope you've been busy in a good way. You're missed when you don't blog, y'know.

My Week's Summary & Shadow Shot

HOOTIN' ANNI said...

well, dagnabbit! I had to delete the other...I was in my genealogy account. rofl

Okay, I did comment this:

I LOVE the whole tradition and especially the part of the married couples' "ties" were never severed.

Have a glorious week.

Linda said...

I always enjoy your stories Dawn. My one year at college was the total opposite of yours. I think I really was not doing what I was meant to do - or perhaps I was just too homesick and unhappy to embrace it.
It is nice to see what a great experience your college years were. I'm proud of you!

Gram said...

I enjoyed the trip - made me remember my first days at college - such good times.

Brenda said...

Neat memories! I enjoyed the graduation tradition especially with those married.

Ginger said...

It was fun reading your memory of leaving home. It also made me a bit teary eyed as I recall the trips to Texas and leaving my girls at school. Even though I knew they were in God's well it was so hard to let go and let them live their own lives without me.

My youngest started North Dallas University last week. I was sad to know she was on her own and all alone, but she's a tough cookie and did just fine.

PEA said...

I certainly did enjoy coming along with you down memory lane:-) I never experienced going away to colleg/university since I graduated from grade 12 when I was 17 and got married at 18 the following year!! To do it all over again...I wouldn't! lol I had so much growing up to do yet and so much I would have loved to do but I got married instead. When my own boy went to university, it was right here in town so they didn't have to leave home. When they did move out, though, after they'd graduated, I felt so lost. Having them "leave the nest" is so hard on a parent/s!!

I just love the idea of the graduation tradition with the ivy rings around the torch, that must be so beautiful to watch.

How wonderful that you've connected with Vivian on Facebook, I can well imagine the memories you two have to share:-)

I hope your week is going well, dear friend. xoxo

Midlife Mom said...

This all brings so many memories back for me too. I was only 13 when I went away to Christian boarding school and like you my parents took me, only three hours away but seemed like forever back then. I had three other roommates and another attached room with two and we all shared a bathroom. I don't know how we all got ready in the morning!!!! I was homesick occasionally but after the first year got to come home more often on the weekends via Greyhound bus. I still here from some of my friends but we were from so many different parts of the country and outside of the country (MK's) that I don't see any of them very often. One does live in the next town and I see her and her hubby occasionally but not at church as he pastors a church about 30 miles away. Nearer to where I grew up.

It was fun hearing about your first year!

Sometimes I think about taking a blogging break but I think if I stopped I wouldn't start up again. I have lost SO MANY and I really miss them. So glad all you 'old faithfuls' are hanging in there!!!

Liz said...

What a lovely trip down memory lane, Dawn!
Thanks for sharing! xxoo

grammy said...

That was a fun read...
I loved college so much...
it was like full time Church Camp...which I loved. I was 500 miles from home, but like you, never really experienced home sickness. I did have my best friend there with me...not in the same room, but close. We did go different ways, she started dating her now husband, the first week there. She was with him way more than with me, but it was alright. I made great friends fast. No calls from home!! only letters... this generation has no idea (o:

grammy said...

I forgot to answer your question. My friend Cathi, went to college with me. The first summer she went to NYC to work with a mission called Go Ye Chapel (I think that was the name ). She was in love with the city and that rubbed off on her husband. He became a preacher on Long Island and they never moved back ( even though he is no longer preaching). He owns a business and she is an accountant for a hospital on the island. Her folks are dead, and she has no siblings... but we feel like sisters, so she comes to visit her roots and ME (o;

A Hint of Home said...

I remember leaving our girls at college in SC when we lived in MI.
Great experience for them and time for them to grow into the fine Christian ladies they are today.

nancygrayce said...

What great memories!