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Friday August 25, 2000, 01:37

Life really does fly by and by and by. Today we packed (rather my father packed while I lay sleeping in my bed, finding solace in the nights in the suburbs means that I stay up way too late and attempt in vain to sleep the same) the family cars with my sister's belongings and, at the designated nine o'clock am (or thereabouts, given the difficulty in getting four people up and moving at the same rate of speed and urgency) headed off to college.

I am no longer in college, but bringing her there today takes me back a few short years ago when I could look forward to the end of the summer which meant seeing my friends again, getting back to the theatre, to parties, to late nights up talking, to watching everyone get drunk and feeling at the same time envious of the silliness and a smug sense of superiority as I knew that I wouldn't be vomiting in the bushes later that night1.

When I was a senior in high school, I built a web page for my high school which remained in use as the "unofficial official" web page (or was it the other way around?). I gave a presentation of the page and had to explain to people what the web was, what it was there for, how people could access it, and how it was going to be a wonderful thing, once it caught on. I, unfortunately, did not have the foresight to make any savvy business decisions at the time, which were, perhaps, quite costly to me down the road. At least when we talk about potential (and, when we talk about the web, isn't it all really just potential?). I mean, I didn't lose any money on the deal. Regadless. The computer I brought with me was a 486. And it was hot shit at the time. We didn't have ethernet in our dorm and had to dial in to get our email. I remember the excitement when I heard the technician in the wiring closet one morning and found out that he was punching down ethernet.

Today, my sister gets home from school and logs in to chat with her friends that she just spent the day with, while doing her homework on the computer and researching everything on the web. This has been the first time that I have really examined the impact that computing technology has had on our family. I know that I personally have way too many computers and that they have shaped most aspects of me, from my chosen career path (for the moment) to my opinions on writing. But to see what a large role this glowing box has had on my sister, who is not as fanatical about computers as I am, nor need she be, is a very real reminder of how prevalent these machines have become in all of our lives.

My dogs are pacing around the house. I think they probably know that my sister is gone for a while, and that they won't see her when they wake up. She won't be coming home from school or work every evening and she won't be there, sleeping soundly in her bed or sitting up at her desk when they curl into their beds at the foot of hers.

There is a range of emotions running through me right now. My sister's departure for college, for this next stage of her life, so to speak, is exciting as I know that she will have a wonderful time, will grow, and will learn. Beyond that, I miss my friends. I miss the community. "Leave the door open," I told her, as we were setting up her email. She no sooner did so that a neighbor poked her head in to introduce herself. "My best friend lived here last year..." she began, and I was again reminded of the world that is the college campus, the campus experience. Students turn-over every four years, but in that time there is some sense of continuity. Friends graduate and new friends matriculate, but in that time, bonds are formed.

However, many of those bonds only hold within the scope of the community. Within that closed segment of the world, certain rules make sense. Sitting on the green to watch for friends to walk by, friends who will stop and sit because they have nothing better to do on a sunny Tuesday afternoon between classes, sit to talk about tomorrow's class, last week's lecture, and tonight's party. Leaving this world, there is no equivalent to sitting on the green in order to ambush friends leaving class on their way to the library. People don't have the time to take out of their busy days. Friends don't hang out, they meet for drinks. They work all day, heading out with coworkers for a quick bite before heading back to the office, or heading out to "do lunch" with a potential client. "Let me check my schedule" replaces "I don't REALLY need to do this reading today" and those people you knew in college have reprioritized their lives.

"I wanna go back to school" I whined to my father as we walked up to my sister's fourth floor dorm room2. Is that what I really meant? I most likely did not take full advantage of the academic offerings that were presented to me in college. If I could do it again, knowing then what I do now, would I have done it any differently? Probably not. So maybe I'm done with college. But I am not done with the experience. Still, when I sit in my apartment and hear a door opening across the hall, I am tempted to run to my own door, chained and dead-bolted, and lean out, smiling, to introduce myself to my neighbor. To sit in her living room and talk.

I have these urgest and am then reminded that I am no longer living in that world. Those rules do not apply to the real world, and once a person leaves college, it is expected that said person is now ready to tackle the world. While a cross-country trip might be in order, or perhaps a bicycle ride around Europse, it is assumed that the college experience is finished, filed away under "F" for "Fun things I did for Four years" and that real world will spontanously start upon employment (this is of course disregarding the option of graduate school which, from my understanding, is completely unlike the undergraduate experience in every way, except that you still get very little sleep and enjoy eating ramen).

In my time in the workforce as an highly-employable computer person, I have come to realize that I was not ready to leave that environment. The problem is that I am unable to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes the college experience so wonderful and as such am unable to determine what I could possibly do to make this post-college experience more enjoyable.

Also, I miss smart people.

And college girls. Oh me oh my3.

1. A bit of hyperbole there as my friends were not ones to drink to such excess that they would be reduced to vomiting in bushes. More likely than not they would end up on the couches in my living room, passed out after an evening of the "Muppet Movie" drinking game or something similar. I would return home and clean the kitchen table and wash the glasses and blender for fear that I would awaken the next morning to find that everything had not been cleaned and that the entire apartment would be covered in a sticky film of alcohol and margaritta mix.

2. The campus was teeming with older students helping the incoming freshmen to move in, carrying boxes and baskets up stairs and wheeling refridgerators into elevators. I didn't have an elevator any of my four years in college and did in fact have to hoist that same refridgerator up four flights of stairs one year, and down again nine months later. Everyone was so friendly and I could not help but feeling that I wanted to run up to each and every one of them and beg them to let me be a student once again. To let me into their lives. Kids with funky hair and fun pants wandered the campus and I thought, "I want to be your friend."

3. Yeah. *sigh* College girls. There were a lot of those out there today.

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