When you're between the ages of 18 and 22 and you're living away from home and your family and parents for the first time ever, and you get to make important life decisions on your own, and set up your room just the way you want it, and get to find and explore your passions in life, you sort of have it made. You can stay up all night, eat whatever you want, pick your own classes, rule your own life, and, seemingly, things couldn't get any better. And then you meet the people. The people, man. It just got better.
Once upon a time, in a small town in Wisconsin, all these weird kids met each other and the world changed. I don't know why we all decided to meet there; I know I, for one, heard my high school friend/prom date's friend Kate talk about Beloit College at some point, and I thought, "Yeah, that sounds fine. Maybe I'll go there." I filled out some forms and wrote an essay, auditioned for a music scholarship, applied for another scholarship, got them both, and off I went to Beloit College. And it was there that I met the most remarkable, most amazing, most interesting people ever in the world.
They came from the East Coast, West Coast, New England, Hawaii, Michigan, the Midwest itself, and "just outside Chicago," among other places. They met by smiling at each other, introducing themselves to strangers, and inviting each other to sit together at dinner. And somehow, probably because of some clash of something magical in the universe, they all clicked. I won't speak for the rest of you, but I know that at that point, my life changed.
I'm sure there are articles and essays written about the importance of bonding with friends and peers at certain ages in order to develop social and interpersonal skills, but whatevs, I haven't read any of them. I can imagine hypotheses written about brains aged 18 - 22 years old and why they are often so susceptible, so impressionable, so...open? Is there some sort of hormone that gets released when you enter college that makes you unconditionally love and understand everybody who crosses your path? Or was it just a wonderful phenomenon that only happens in the magical land of Beloit?
Or...maybe it's that we live together, sometimes sharing beds just a few inches apart, and thusly have to connect because we have no choice. Or maybe it's because we spend every waking (and sometimes, sleeping) moment with each other, whether it's brushing our teeth together, showering in stalls next to each other, walking to class together, eating together, drinking together, playing music together, staying up late together, or laying with heads on shoulders, not talking together. I mean, that's got to be it, right? To quote one Andy Brink (RA extraordinaire of the famous 819 sophomore year, 1998 - 1999), "We even pooped together!" Yeah, I'd say that's it.
We all faced an inevitably beautiful vulnerability of being on our own, totally alone, with nothing familiar in our lives, and we came out of it all with connections unlike anything we had experienced before. We had little choice but to open up and allow each other in if we wanted to survive. And thankfully, it all resulted in love.
I'm not totally sure what the focus of this is, or the point, or whether I'm clearly explaining exactly what I'm trying to say, and I know I'm all over the place. But I can say (in a focused, clear way) that I couldn't have had a better group of friends to do everything together with. We clicked like nothing had ever clicked before. I should hesitate to even use the word "clicked." More fitting: exploded, combusted, detonated. All violent and negative words, unfortunately, but all having to do with fire for some reason. So...whatever a positive fiery word might be...that's what my friends and I are like. Positive and fiery. That's us.
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