I was just wandering inside my own head this morning, when I got to thinking about those memories that really shine. You know, those moments in time that are so indelibly imprinted onto our consciousness that we never forget them. Thinking of these times eventually lead me to think on when I was the most happiest, and I realized it was this one night my Freshman year of college.
It was nearing Spring Break, but Lisa's college got theirs a week before mine. Since I had my own room by this point in the year, I remember asking Lisa if she wanted to visit and stay with me during her week off. I was delighted when she said yes! We had been dating for 10 months or so, and I had already visited for a weekend at her college, which was nearly 160 miles away. Since neither one of us had a car, travelling between the two locations required ample use of that hated mode of travel for poor, broke bastards--the Greyhound bus!
On the day she was to arrive, I was SO fidgety with anxiousness. I zombie'd my way through my classes, barely took note of the drudgery that was working in the dishroom, and ran back to my room after dinner to wait the three hours until Lisa's bus arrived on campus.
I had a small problem, though. It came in the form of my midterm paper for Philosophy class. It wasn't due for another few days, and I'd figured I'd somehow work around Lisa being in the room with me and find the time to bang out the required 2,000 words discoursing the empirical views of Hume vs Locke and how they clashed (if at all) with the existential stance of, say, Nietzsche. Or something along those lines.
But as I sat in my room disinterestedly preparing an outline for the paper, it occurred to me: why not write the whole thing now--in these next three hours--so that you can devote all your time to being with the love of your life?
Heh, heh . . . okay, I wasn't *that* sappy about it, but you get the point. I immediately dismissed this as impossible, however. How could I possible write a critical essay of the required academic calibre I needed in a mere 3 hours? Or, rather, less than 3 hours?
But the more I thought about it, and what would more than likely really be going on during the time Lisa was with me, the more I began to realize that this was something that absolutely needed to be done--and right away! I suddenly knew with chilling clarity that I would be too excited and blissful while Lisa was there to possibly get any writing done. Luckily for me all my other studies were squared away and completed for the next few days. But this paper . . . no, it could not get done while I was distracted.
So, with nothing but the thrill of the challenge and pent-up excitement spurring me on, I sat in front of my Mac computer and started typing away. And this was no surface dressing writing, I must say. I totally lost myself in old, dead white philosophers for the next two hours, burning the keys away with brilliant insight and wit. And you know what? It turned out to be one of the best papers I would write during my entire college stint.
How crazy is that? I must have had the mother of all muses for love-sick undergrads guiding my hand that night, because that paper ended up getting me a B+ in what was a very tough beginner's Philosophy class.
But that's besides the point. Back to the story.
With the paper now done, I sat back and realized I had only 30 mins left to proofread. I did as much as I could, and then I made the mistake of looking out my window. I couldn't believe what I saw. Somehow, in the time since I had last gazed out through those panes of glass (which was before I started typing) it had snowed a whole inch and a half! I couldn't believe it. It was as if I had entered another world. Somehow the fact that it was bright and clear before I started writing the paper, and now nighttime and wintry white when I finished, made a part of my brain think that more time had gone by than actually did.
My pulse quickened, but then logic took over. It was mid-March after all, and this *was* Vermont. This kind of weather was supposed to be par for the course, or so I had heard from upper classmen. No need to panic.
And indeed I did not. I, instead, took it as a good sign. I love snow, and what better way to introduce Lisa to the beautiful campus of Middlebury College than under a blanket of fresh, pristine white powder? A whiteness that seemed to twinkle under the waxing moonlight like diamonds spread across the land.
And, so, powering down my Mac, I grabbed my coat and keys and left the dorm. This is the moment I remember clearly to this day. This is why I'm writing about this incident, the happiest night of my life.
I can't describe it adequately enough, however, for which I apologize. All I can do is paint a picture for you.
Imagine if you will a young college student running down the long, sloping path leading away from Mead Chapel. Every few feet he's slipping and sliding along the slick new snow like a surfer. He's spinning and jumping for no reason at all, beaming smile plastered across his face. He's not singing or whistling or anything cliched like that, but best believe there's a song playing in his heart.
I know this is hard for those of you who know me to picture--but yes, it's all true! I was that guy. Of course, I was behaving a fool because I was in love and about to be reunited with my sweetheart who I had not seen for over 3 months. I'd also like to note that the campus was devoid of strollers at that time of night, so I had the entire McCullough side of the field to myself. Down past Voter hall on the left I skipped, onward beyond Painter and Warner halls, and down the little hill to where the lonely bus stop waited on Shannon Street. I had arrived early, so I leaned against a tree and allowed the silent world to embrace me. It was a cold, lovely night, with errant snowflakes twirling through the air now that the main storm had moved on.
Although I only saw two or three students walk by in that time--on their way to the Science Center--I felt connected to humanity, as odd as that might sound. But it's a true irony: that you feel the most connected to the world when you are outdoors and in the elements, alone but anticipating good company to come. Surely my senses were over-heightened because I was so excited!
Eventually I saw the Vermont Trailways bus make the right off Main St. and trundle down College St. It stopped right in front of me and the driver came down and opened up the luggage storage compartment underneath the bus. Eventually Lisa walked down the steps, and suddenly she was all I could see.
I can't see the memory so clearly after this point. The remainder of that night is all a fog of happiness, laughter, and joy. I do remember the 6 days of that week which followed, though. I have pictures to prove it happened, too! But for me, as much fun as I had having Lisa come to visit, nothing sits so clearly in my recollection as the anticipation leading up to her visit does. Even today, 14 years later, I can't think of any moment more beautiful than my crazy, sliding run across campus in the still starkness of that wintry night, waiting for her to arrive.
This, I know . . . this is what love is. That memory right there.
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