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Davis, California

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Column: Life goes on, bra

I spent my first night of college in my dorm room crying. It was a pansy moment, I know. I’m lucky to report that things have definitely looked up since then. I know now that there’s no real definition for college. Experiencing it is the only way to know what’s up. Definitions are overrated anyhow. It’s best sometimes to just know you had a good time and call it a day.

When I woke up the morning after I moved out of the dorms, the veil of dazed sleep still hanging around me, I looked around the bedroom I’d slept in my entire life. Everything was as it had been the previous September, forcing me to wonder, for a fleeting moment, if my balls-to-the-walls first year of college had just been a mere fragment of my runaway imagination.

There must have been a time in each of your lives when you woke up after having an epic night, and had the time of your life, and your bubble of elation just popped because you got that feeling in your gut as though you knew it would be awhile before you felt that great again. And there’s no reliving the moment, although I’m the kind of fool who always replays them in her head a million times over. But it’s such a bummer to move on from it. That’s what commencement seems like from where I stand. College will be a tough act to follow. Sometimes, even in the middle of something, you know it’ll be the kind of thing that stays embedded in your mind forever. Don’t leave these pieces of your youth behind or you’ll get old too damn fast.

Sunday night found me sprawled across an inner tube, lazily revolving in the dark as strobe lights danced across Lake Shasta and “Keg in the Closet,” a three-and-a-half-minute summary of college life, felicitously emanated from some monster speakers. That’s when I think I made peace with the fact that I won’t be back for another round next year. The time has come for me to put on my big girl pants and venture on to discover how far a keen sense of wit and totally sweet rack can get a girl through life.

Life in Davis will go on, of course. Kids are gonna wake up with the sunrise on Picnic Day, pray that malaria gets them before their finals do, and sing classic rock songs with their friends on their way home from the bars. Savor those WTF moments and shenanigans. Someday you’ll rock the cap and gown and part ways with this wicked little town too. It will be a good thing, even if doing so seems like blindly stumbling forward. Life seems to make more sense glancing backward, anyway.

Someday, I suspect, I’ll go on some spontaneous drive and end up cruising down Russell to revisit the times when I thought pickling my liver was a great idea. But it won’t be the same. Because the Davis I knew will exist only in the memories of myself and those I shared them with. Our own jukebox of memories is what we take with us when we leave something behind. It’s wrong to cling to something that wasn’t meant to last. I have to remind myself every now and then not to be sad that it’s over, but happy it happened in the first place.

It’s a trip to think of what the last four years could have been spent on. Maybe pool hustling in Waukesha or something. Things happened in the world outside of Aggietown. What I’m saying is, there’s no better thing I would have rather been doing than living it up here. I can only hope every graduate feels a smudge of that sentiment.

And despite the frivolous nature of these columns – bromance, Popov chugging and Catholic school antics – I cared tremendously about crafting a decent read. Writing this column has been nothing short of a privilege. I highly recommend scoring a column of your own if you have the means.

There’s no doubt that I’ll miss the people more than anything. I can only hope for the chance to say goodbye to certain folks, but if I don’t, it was nice just to know them. One of my ridiculous fantasies is to schmooze at the Kentucky Derby in a really big hat. Should this ever come true, and should you see me there, wave your overpriced mint julep in my direction. I’d like that.

This column’s gotta end at some point. It’s on that note that I’ll say so long, Thursday. You were good to me.

MICHELLE RICK would love an e-mail at marick@ucdavis.edu before she bikes out into that proverbial sunset. Thank you for reading.


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