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A Higher Education

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I am submitting this post for the Yeah Write challenge #62.  It’s my first time. Be gentle.

This city shaped me.

This city helped me find the confidence I always knew I possessed but was too shy to display.

This city was my freedom from small town quicksand and protective parenting.

This city meant finding my direction, for better or worse.

This city was choosing the people I wanted to stumble along next to me for the next four years.

Back then, I didn’t know that those same people would stick firmly within the inner circle of my lifeweb.  That I would stand with them in their weddings, kiss their children and cry with them at the graves of their parents.

We have traveled afar and returned home.  We have tried and failed professionally, but stubbornly kept climbing.  We’ve lived and loved since the diplomas now hanging in our offices were bestowed upon our cap and gown selves. We’ve gained and/or lost pounds, married and/or divorced spouses and decided to have/not have children. We have emailed, Facebooked, Skyped, Tweeted, texted and called.

This past weekend brought those treasured people together for one special night, in this city.

On Saturday my heart grinned with every hug, sang with every laugh I haven’t heard in years, and was tickled by every bit of affectionate teasing.  I awww’ed over pictures of my friends’ children, shared my adventures of the past (eventful) year and even ran into an old boyfriend.  He’s happily married with two beautiful girls, and his hugs still make me feel tiny.  We were all discussing and catching up on the now, but memories swam as thickly through the room as the night’s humidity.  It was special and it was glorious.

As I wistfully steered my car away from downtown the next morning, I took note of the newly painted facades next to the lovingly run-down traditions. I thought, “How can it look so different but still feel so familiar?”  And it struck me.  The truth is that no physical alteration of this town can diminish the magnitude of meaning that it holds for every person who has experienced its greatness.


It’s the people.  It’s the bonds that were formed.  It’s everything we went through together – the failures, the victories, the lessons, the heartbreaks – that shaped everything about the people we are today.  It’s love.  It is vibrant in its enormity.  And inevitably it’s the letting go of this place that allows it to live on within us.

Regardless of your institutional affiliation, if you’ve experienced it, you know.  You understand.

It’s a higher education.


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41 responses »

  1. Love love love the phrase “Memories swam as thickly through the room as the night’s humidity.” Beautiful–and true. I still have so many close friends from college!

  2. Well said! It really is about the people.

  3. Yes! it is the memories that make a city, and the memories that make a home. It is the love and laughter that is shared that truly makes a place special.

  4. Today, it’s not the school or the buildings that I reminisce about, it’s the people and the shared experiences. Great post.

  5. No need to be gentle with you, you did a fantastic job. 🙂

  6. You did a beautiful job!
    Your words gave me goosebumps and made me remember my own dear friends. Thanks for that!

  7. Beautifully written post! I feel the same when I return to my hometown. It’s familiar but yet different because most of the people from my memories are gone now.

  8. Houses are just buildings, but homes are where memories form, roots go down, and the links you share with actual beings get forged. Nicely said.

  9. I love reconnecting and reminiscing. That’s probably why I can’t get enough of our old home movies when I visit my parents’ house. Great post!

    • Aw. Are we saps? Case in point, for Father’s Day I made my facebook pic a picture of my dad holding me at about age 1. It makes me (and him!) weepy. 🙂

  10. It’s always more about the company than the event to me.

  11. Welcome to yeah write! (I’m not exactly an old-timer, but people were so welcoming to me, I wanted to return the favor.)

    I love “small town quicksand.” Great phrase. I know that feeling.

  12. I am awed by the beauty of this post. So well written, so perceptive, and so true! I feel the same way about my college experience.

  13. You just took me back to my college days…thrilled you linked up and with such a striking post! Wonderful job—no need for us to be gentle with this one. It’s fantastic all on its own and although I have yet to go to a college reunion (timing is always bad + kids), I have an idea it would be very much like you’ve described.


    • Thank you, Erin. I am so thrilled to be here. I knew the weekend would give me ample writing ammo, but had no idea this challenge would push me to create rather than just recap. That is just….cool. Officially hooked on Yeah Write!

  14. welcome to yeah write! i. love. the end of this. perfect way to wrap this up.

  15. Fabulous ending. Perfect ending. Love the way you just let that sentence be and didn’t expound on it. And welcome to Yeah Write!

  16. Great post. I was left with all sorts of fabulous questions in the midst of my favorite cities, colleges, and special spaces. Which. I believe, is exactly where I was supposed to be. Good job!

  17. Welcome to Yeah Write…only my second time. Glad you are here. Loved this post…what city is it? I love the SOUTH….

  18. Great memories and great writing. A wave to you from Madison — not so far away.

  19. Vibrant in its enormity. Well said.

  20. So glad you linked up this week! Great vivid description of how memory and nostalgia and good people are all wrapped up into place.

  21. What rich and eloquent prose you have! Your words made me long for a city, a home like that of my own.

  22. Well written.Totally made me miss my hometown. Enjoyed this one!

  23. This is beautiful. I agree. It is all about the people.


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