I probably drank too much tequila this summer.
I say probably, because there’s really no accurate measurement. It’s an individual thing.
I may have eaten too many desserts too. We went on a cruise in July, and when I would ask the server about two different desserts on the menu, he would say in his thick Eastern European accent, “I bring both.” Those three words, “I bring both,” kind of sum up my summer: too much drink, too much food, too much sun and so much fun.
Thank you, September. Year after year, you always bring me back from the debauchery.
If there wasn’t a September, we would have to invent one. What is it about this month that makes us want to get back to our routines, get our lives in order and start firing up those gadgets that count how many steps we have taken in a day?
We get extra special, bonus September here, because we are in a college town. The air gets a buzz to it. You see “little ants,” as my friend Mary likes to call them, everywhere. They are such happy people, these returning college students and shiny, new freshman.
I stood behind a group of them in the self-checkout line at Harris Teeter. They were all chatting away, and I realized, there were three open self-checkouts. They could have each bought their items, but why, when you can catch up with old friends?
I don’t know how you UNC alumni do it. How do you live in the town in which you went to college? I didn’t go here, and I am filled with envy for these kids. At what other time in your life do you live in close proximity to all of your friends, sit indoors 15 to 18 hours a week, and then make up the rest of your schedule?
Never. It never happens again – even grad school is different.
Is the gift of those four years what makes this age so idealistic or are idealistic people drawn to college? There is something about dorm life that makes you feel all problems can be solved. What you don’t get to today, you’ll solve tomorrow.
Of course, there is the flip side to having college students in your life. They know everything. They know what you know and then even more. They can explain it all. They’ll have to talk slowly, because y’know, you’re not in college anymore.
College students in an election year are an even more special bonus. My older son had a roommate whose views differed greatly from my own. My son would come home on breaks and ask me what I thought about “freeloaders.”
“Deep breath. Count to 10. He’s at a really influential age. You want to appear sane in front of him.” Those were my thoughts, but of course, the conversation ended with me nearly abusing the potatoes I was peeling and him slowly backing away.
Since dropping off both of my sons at another North Carolina university, I’ve been struck by the thought of how lucky UNC-Chapel Hill parents are to send their children to our community. There is something about the people of Chapel Hill that echo Glennon Doyle Melton’s sentiment that “there is no such thing as other people’s children.”
While we know they are with us for only a few short years, we also know they are going to cross every crosswalk with earphones in their ears, possibly drink too much, definitely worry too much, and we look out for them.
We slow down at all lights because, as my neighbor Sheila says, “They are very smart, but they can’t walk and chew gum.” We avoid late nights on Franklin Street and reassure them there is life after a C.
It’s a tricky equation: does UNC make Chapel Hill a special place or does Chapel Hill, and its inhabitants, make UNC a special place?
I don’t know the answer to that, but there is something special in the air around here, and it’s most evident in this ninth month of the year.
Reach Mary Carey at www.primaryily.com.