Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Twenty Years of Going First

It is unfathomable that I am old enough to remember events from 20 years ago. Let's be honest - I remember events from 30 years ago too. Ouch. Twenty years ago I graduated from high school. Twenty freaking years. That's insane.

Twenty years ago I took my tour of West Virginia University. I couldn't imagine myself anywhere else, and it shaped who I am in a significant way. I loved being at WVU. I bleed old gold and blue to this day, and I am a rabid Mountaineer fan. My years in Morgantown were so fun. That's why it remains, to this day, my happy place.

My husband's cousin (and my son's godfather) got accepted to WVU and wanted to do a tour. We happily brought him to Morgantown for the weekend so I could show off one of my favorite places in the world. The city has changed tremendously since I started there in 1996. In a lot of ways the surrounding community is unrecognizable from the way it was 20 years ago, but the campus has remained relatively the same. Gone are the large computer labs and dot matrix printers, but otherwise many of the buildings are caught in that academic time capsule that makes old college campuses so charming.

The tour reminded me of how much has changed even though in my head it's just been a few years since I was a student there. We toured Wise Library which underwent a large renovation in the early 2000s. When I in college the stacks in the library were a little more *ahem* private. Kids these days can't get away with our shenanigans. But as we toured the library with its floor to ceiling windows and study rooms with giant TVs I noticed the books smell exactly the same. It took me back to college immediately.

Campus has some new buildings, and the Sunnyside neighborhood no longer smells like pot and dirty feet (which is sad because it was part of its charm). There's also a Sheetz in Sunnyside (first floor retail in a mixed-use development - perfection!). If you're reading this and don't know what Sheetz is, run don't walk to your car and drive to the nearest one and experience it. According to Google that's approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes away from Lansing, Michigan in the Village of Sheffield, Ohio. Worth the drive.

As I showed our cousin around campus, I marveled at how much it changed. Yet my heart realized much had stayed the same. It's really a lot like me: in 20 years there's a lot of that wide-eyed 17-year-old idealist left in me. She's mostly covered up by my acerbic wit and charm. I've changed a lot, but deep down there's a lot of the same person.

What has changed? My attire. This photo from freshman year shows my FAV Adidas pants and my boyfriend's t-shirt. I wore this all. the. time.
On Sunday morning my dad and I hit the trail for a quick 3.5 mile run. Oddly even though my dad wasn't a runner, my beautiful, quiet runs on the Deckers Creek Trail remind me of our last days with him last fall. It's one of the places I feel the closest to him. It's so quiet, and I may see a few other people on the trail. But I am mostly alone with my thoughts and reflection, and I can feel my dad everywhere.

Sunglasses hide my ugly cry face.

The 17-year-old version of me would be happy with the 37-year-old version of me. I'm married to a hilarious and brilliant man. I have a precious little boy. I have a job I love and about which I am passionate. I have a great group of friends. My life is certainly not without its (sometimes huge) challenges, but it is those challenges that have made me the strong, passionate, tenacious person I am today. 

I like to think embody WVU's #GoFirst campaign. I LOVE this:

Before pride, before recognition, there is first. The first thought, the first step, the first breakthrough. At West Virginia University, we are determined to go first. It's in our blood. It's in our sweat. And it's in our nature. Here, going first means we're bold enough to dream big, to take risks. It's why we go to the edge and instead of going back - we build a bridge and we keep going. So we will go above. We will go beyond. And when everyone else goes back, Mountaineers go first. #GoFirst

Yeah...that's pretty much what I've spent the last 20 years doing. Here's to the next 20! 

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