Monday, July 14, 2008

Going back to College and leaving without a degree

July 9: Being back in Columbia is a weird experience. It’s a mixture of home and good memories mixed with the regret that I can’t relive them or there isn’t much time for more to be made here. Everyone I know is starting to move away and soon I won’t even have a free place to stay.

Wandering around and seeing all the places I love and loved is almost heartbreaking. It feels almost like when you see the ex-significant other in the hallways of the high school with another man. I hate seeing the freshmen coming in, not knowing exactly what a great place they are moving to. Sometimes I wish I could be put into a time capsule to continually relive these moments. Even when I’m with some old friends, they don’t quite ignite the same invincibility I once felt. I was drinking a Coors Light and looking around at the mostly empty bar and thinking I feel the same way… kind of empty here. I want so badly to stay here, but I don’t know if there’s enough for me to stay for. I miss worrying about grades and money for pizza rather than money for bills and where I’m going to work and live.

Columbia represents a different me. A person that still believed he could write the great American novel. The person who felt like love was like being in Paris, under the moon, sipping on wine with a significant other. The person that believed one person could change the world. Now the person that is merely looking for a paycheck, comes back, and finds no paycheck, only the ideals he can barely remember believing in. Bumper stickers, banners, and subcultures protect the area from real life. He tries to go to all his old favorite places, and finds that they are all just the old favorite places.

July 10: Less emo kid today. I woke up irritated that we didn’t walk home through campus last night. I sort of tried to direct our group through there, but everyone wanted to walk on the perimeter of campus. Tonight, I have to walk through campus. It’s just tradition. I used to walk through campus every chance I got.

I like walking everywhere. I want to be able to survive with limited vehicle assistance. Being here furthers my extreme need to live in a city somewhere. A place we’ll only need one car for running to the grocery store or making it out to the suburbs or country to see family and friends. I hate having to drive. I hate needing a car. I hate how we keep building towns to necessitate driving everywhere. I’m tired of spreading out. I want to be within thirty feet of my next door neighbor. Try to reinvent the closeness of neighborhoods.

For the most part, the town is still intact from when I left. The bike lanes are still on every street, large amounts of the 84,000 people walk to anywhere they can, and as far as I can tell, besides Nikai and C.C.s City Broiler (goodbye ten year anniversary of Sallie and my engagement), nothing downtown has gone out of business since I left. In fact a bar notorious for bad cover bands blazing through frat boy music still has the same cover band, playing the exact same Dave Matthews, Sublime, and Jack Johnson songs they’ve been playing since 2004.

Three super Wal Marts opened in the last few months I was here, and the aftermath is starting to show. Stripmalls that once were filled with mom and pop shops are starting to look run down and abandoned. New stripmalls are being built next to the Wal Marts, but the mom and pop shops remain gone. Instead Sprint stores, Kohls, EB Games, and Subways spring up creating the suburban look that I loved Columbia for lacking. There was this old abandoned gas station my roommate Eric and I used to run through for exercise that has been torn down to build TigerWash. There are now 4 car washes within a mile radius of each other. If there’s one thing the average college student doesn’t do, it’s clean their car often. How do these places stay in business? Simple, I think many people that go to school here, end up staying here for life. The dynamic of college student to local has shifted, and these former Mizzou students are growing old, building the suburbs, and popping out children.

July 11th

In true Columbia fashion, the original plans for the night had a slight change to them. We went to a movie and then to McNallys for pizza and beer. Unfortunately I ate too much pizza so I couldn’t get any sort of good liquid feeling going through me. The night reminded me much of when I gave up drinking completely for months, and every time I went to hang out with people I just watched them get drunk.

Some people get funny when they’re drunk. Some people melodramatic. Some become jerks and some just get stupid. I saw all of the above tonight. The honeymoon period of everyone missing us and not seeing us for so long was over, and slowly things that happened in college started surfacing again. Drama I had forgotten about. The uphill battle of keeping everyone happy. Trying to entertain everyone at the same time.

I guess for the most part I had a great time tonight with a couple of annoyances. Overall I guess I’m over college. It’s a great place to visit time and time again, and an even better place to visit the vast and great memories I created while here, but overall I just don’t think the magic I once felt can ever be recaptured. I want to come back, but I want to come back with expectations that things will be different.