Today is the first day of college for our oldest son, Alec. I believe he is nervous and excited, simultaneously feeling the liberation of studying the expansive curriculum of college (as opposed to the teaching for the test he has experienced over his years in public k-12) and the anxiety of the more competitive pool of peers. On Facebook he simply posted “First day of class!” I’ll need to check back in a few hours to see what the updated post is. This momentous event brings to mind my first day of college 25 years and a month ago. Fall is normally a spectacular season in Salt Lake City, and my first day of college was spectacular: blue skies, pleasant temperatures. But best of all, I was carpooling with my best friend. Here is what I have previously written about that day, with names changed to protect the innocent.
Just before eight the next morning, I got in my silver Jetta, a used car my dad had bought me, drove over to Waterbury, and picked up Amy. As I felt God had blessed me the day before by speaking to me, this morning I felt even more blessed by God in that Amy’s sister Kathy had moved to Washington, Mary had moved to Logan to attend Utah State, and Nancy and Theresa were now both down at BYU, leaving me to be Amy’s primary schoolmate as we started classes at the U.
Driving up 13th East that morning, listening to David Bowie, talking with Amy, I was nervous and excited, wondering what this university experience would be like. In the year since Mary had told me she was moving on [from me], Amy had become my closest friend, and having Amy in the car with me gave me a sense of confidence as I pulled into the campus as a first day freshman.
All the stories about the lack of student parking seemed greatly exaggerated as we pulled right into a spot in the parking lot by the business school. The ten-dollar ticket we found upon returning to the car taught me to be much more careful about checking where a “U” (student) lot changed into an “A” (faculty) lot. I accepted Amy’s offer to split the ticket with me, a most unchivalrous act, my mother said, but since Amy and I were just good friends, I didn’t second guess myself much. We didn’t get any more parking tickets, and, as a bonus for our extra care and attention, we got more exercise by parking farther away from our classes.
Alec is living on campus, so he doesn’t need to worry about parking, and he wouldn’t be singing along to David Bowie if he were driving. Rather than having his ex-girlfriend 90 miles away, his is living two floors beneath him. But despite the differences, I imagine he is feeling the same way I was and will have a vivid memory of this bright and cool day. (Although Alec is living in Pittsburgh so it is more likely to be of a gray and muggy day.)