When I look back on all that I’ve done for the last four years in college, I feel like I’ve learned so much and nothing at all. I’ve learned ecosystems, biomes, coding, genetics, and…nothing. To be more specific, most of my class material has gone in one ear and out the other by the end of the year, while I spend most of my time reminiscing the days I could go to concerts and farmers markers at the town plaza near my college. Whenever I think about my college days, the thing my mind conjures first is that one night I sat next to a stoned punk telling cheesy knock knock jokes and showing a picture of his cat that he named after GG Allin. The conversation came up when he saw my shirt and started spouting nonsense to the misfortune of confused bystanders.
College was and still is a strange time for me. While I’ve had a few friends, I tended to hop from group to group until I got bored and retired to a hermit lifestyle in my dorm. Friends have always been a doozy for me. I have a solid group of friends back from high school in the midwest. I tend to have trouble bonding, and possibly even trusting anyone else. I tried to befriend an interesting fellow that belonged to a Christian camp in my freshman year. He was a charismatic and outgoing guy: perfect cult leader material. The kind of guy who floats down a river on his back while making deep metaphors about the impermanent flow of life. Believe it or not he actually did this. He’d also engage in long conversations about slut shaming while walking to the local noodle house. All in all, an interesting guy.
Going downtown takes over most of the memories of my college experience. I’d always try to take my roommates down the main square often to no avail. There were two record shops around, a nice venue, and a large public park with a pond overrun with cormorants choking on old socks. Whenever I’d go down the old sidewalks I’d pass by an old etching on the pavement that said “be real”. The words always brought me a pang of happiness when I walked over them. It was a line into another world. A world without three page essays on deer population demographics and a space full of music and good smelling food to replace it. My college town always had great food. I went to a tamale place every other week. The owner always wore a red bandana and would apologize when he’d admit there were no vegan options on the menu. Not that I cared.
When I think of specific things I’ve learned in college, all I can think of is that new Aphex twin record and those delicious cornbread pancakes that an old grandpa would serve on the plaza. Nothing much else seems of much use to me when getting asked this question in the moment. Sure, I’ve learned many things, but learning cormorants can choke on dirty socks is strangely more fulfilling.