As I walked around campus yesterday, the wind had a certain bite that seemed to instantly bring to mind memories of falls past. Fall has always been my favorite season; with the musty smell of fallen leaves and morning nip to the air, it is refreshing without the damp squishiness of spring. When I was young, my family would spend fall weekends hiking the various metropark trails together, trying to earn hiking sticks that my brothers and I would inevitably use as ninja weapons during the summer. I love this seasonal rush, where one holiday runs into the next until another year has run itself out, and we have only February snowstorms to look forward to until spring.
Yesterday, though, the memories the chill wind brought to mind were more specific. For a moment, somewhere between the Quad and my car, I was taken back for a moment to that one fall in 2000 when J and I started dating. That fall is really the only fall I remember from college. I was a commuter student and could never really figure out how to get involved in the life of my university. My college friends didn't come from my dorm floor or some big lecture class, but were work friends, most of whom weren't college students themselves. My memories of the university are limited to getting on and then getting off campus, because I never really felt like I belonged there. At least until that fall.
Our first real date was during the halloween celebration that the quaint campustown area held each year. I had never been to this quintessential Kent festival until he asked me to go along with him. I wasn't even sure it was really a date, at first. But when he put his arm around me on a cold street corner, I realized it was.
Our relationship was never really supposed to work. I knew that I was graduating in December and would be going to grad school somewhere not in the state I drew up with. I wanted a city. I wanted to live out on my own--and no boy was going to get in the way of that. He knew that he would be doing a year or two stint for Americorps, and then he dreamed about grad school in Wisconsin (a place I categorically refused to go). We just said to each other, "let's see what happens," not really thinking that the relationship would go anywhere.
But things were easy, comfortable. Perhaps because we laid our cards on the table so early, we didn't play silly games and we didn't worry about where we were headed. That fall was one of my most favorite. That fall, in my final semester, I finally felt like a college student. He took me to campus events that I would have never known about on my own. We went to poetry slams in the African American studies building some evenings. We spent evenings at Ray's, talking with his friends, who became my friends. I went to flute recitals and student films. And I spent hours with him, just walking around campus.
It's strange to say now, but in my first 3 years of college, I never walked around campus. I walked through it--trying to get from my car to my class and back. I didn't have any reason to linger. I didn't really know anyone to linger with. But that fall, Kent finally became my school, too.
Yesterday reminded me so much of that fall. For a moment, I was taken back to that time when I was the girl with the little red camaro, driving over to see the boy I kind of liked who didn't have a car of his own. Suddenly, it was that moment when I would dial up to his apartment, butterflies in my stomach, wondering what would happen next.