20 Years Since I Was a College Freshman?

answering-machineA friend of mine was feeling a little nostalgic and recently wrote a blog post about how it’s been 20 (!!!) years since she was a freshman at North Central University, which was known back then as North Central Bible College. And that hit me pretty hard because she and I were (gasp!) in the same class. Has it really been two full decades since I started college?

It was about this time in August 1994 when my Mom and I packed the family minivan full of more stuff than could possibly fit in a dorm room. I’m really not sure what I was thinking, but I guess I wanted to be ready for anything. If memory serves me correctly, a friend’s second car (do you remember this, Shanna?) was actually required for the surplus.

In addition to enough Green Bay Packer memorabilia for my own woman cave and shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent and makeup for a family of five, I remember being particularly proud of the answering machine I’d recently purchased. We never had one at home, but now that I was a college girl, well, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss any important calls. It’s pretty funny that we live in a world where kids have no idea what an answering machine is. I even remember a pretty lengthy debate with myself about what song I’d use in the background of my outgoing message. I’m pretty sure it was something from Jars of Clay’s self-titled album before eventually opting for Oasis. I was very into Brit pop then, after all.

After living in small-town Wisconsin for pretty much my entire life, I could hardly believe I was moving to Minneapolis, let alone downtown Minneapolis. I’ll never forget the look of horror on my Mom’s face while she looked for a place to park. She had the look of a woman who was wondering if she’d made a colossal mistake. Meanwhile, I was just excited. After reading about my chosen major of journalism and the classes I’d be taking roughly 3,346 times, I was finally going to be studying the craft of writing. And living on my own. In Minneapolis, the home of my favorite basketball player at the time, Christian Laettner, no less.

I remember feeling so proud when I got the key to the shoebox I’d call home for a year. It was actually bigger than most dorm rooms, a consolation prize for the fact it was in the middle of the hallway with actual functioning classrooms. Yes, while my fellow 2nd floor peers were able to walk to the shower first thing in the morning without the fear of bumping into a cute boy, or worse yet, a professor, I perfected the art of running to the closest wing, plastic shower caddy in hand, with my head down. I’m sure I looked awesome, or more likely, a crazed circus freak.

Looking back, I can’t help but remember my freshman year with great fondness. Since the girl who was supposed to be my roommate decided to head back to California once she experienced Minnesota (and really, could you blame her?), I had my own room for the first semester. This allowed me to display all my Packer stuff proudly without fear of what someone else might think. I also could play my music as loud as I wanted—something that nearly anyone I’ve stayed in touch over the years with still references. If you’re reading, I’m sorry I played so much PFR. I liked them, what can I say?

But the best thing about being in college, aside from working toward a degree in my chosen field, was the people I met. I’ll never forget the night my friend Gina Morgan and her roomie Cat Lentz introduced me to chicken fajitas at Chili’s and the glories of dipping tortilla chips into sour cream and salsa. You’d think I’d discovered electricity or something, it was just incredible.

In my hometown of 3,900 people we didn’t have great culinary achievements like these, and I felt impossibly cool hanging with two sophomores to boot. Incidentally, Gina also had the world’s largest collection of cassettes, mostly ’80s stuff, and I also have her to thank for my love of coffee. Or as she’d say cah-fee. She was from Missouri but had an accent that was full-on Southern. I thought she was so worldly and wise.

I also met my friend and namesake, Krista B. At first, I thought she was my long-lost roommate who hadn’t shown up yet, but turns out, she was just visiting campus when she poked her head in my room. I’m guessing she wanted to see the lunatic who was playing her music so loud. But instead of running for her life, we started chatting and clicked immediately. Many days of skipping College Math and Algebra and Biology would ensue (we’d walk to the nearby Dairy Queen and get a blizzard instead), and we still joke about our “rebellion” to this day.

I have many memories of the girl who inspired this post, too. Like me, Sue adored The Beatles, and because I was cash-strapped like most college freshman, she’d loan me her Beatles CDs so I could tape the songs I liked best. Despite her unabashed love of John Denver, it was always fun hanging with Sue. One time she said something that caught me so off-guard that I spit a mini Reese’s peanut butter cup across the room. That’s just one of the many great things about college—you meet people with all sorts of stories and varying life experiences. To me, that was better than almost any class I ever signed up for.

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