Thursday, April 22, 2021

S is for Snow College
When I graduated from high school, I decided to attend Snow College, in Ephraim, Utah. I cannot emphasize enough how small the town was, and how small the college was. My friend Kara and I lived in off-campus housing called Badger Hollow, and our other friends (Darn, I can't remember what the fake names I gave them were, so I am just going to call them M, J, and D) lived across the street.

It was a great place to practice adulthood. You had to go down some stairs  to get to our apartment, and when it rained, the whole walkway outside our apartment would flood, which was a lot of fun to play in but less fun when you had to wade through it to get to class. We often went over to M J, and D's apartment to hang out. It had a lot more space than ours, and Kara and I had a roommate who didn't like men much, and who was often at home, so we didn't bring many people back to our apartment that year. We all drove home on the weekends pretty frequently. We were unfortunately pretty insular right at first, and eventually started acting more like brothers and sisters than friends. Brothers and sisters who were annoyed that they always had to spend so much time together... but then kept doing it.

We took a really hard geography class together, and that is where I got to know a few of the people on the baseball team. D had a scholarship to play baseball, and a couple of his teammates were in the class. I didn't really know what the story was, or at least I don't remember anymore, but there was some sort of reticence between these two guys, who we will call Noah and Tyler, and D. 

One day, J's older brother and his friend came to visit them. I knew the friend from high school, but had never met the brother. We were all kind of in awe of them, I think. I didn't eat dinner with them, but Kara and I were there for the end of the evening, and that is when D & J decided that Kara and I ought to do the dishes. It was all a big, patriarchal joke, except it got kind of serious, and I remember being picked up and put near the sink. I hated that. I have a deep-seated hatred of people stronger than me winning arguments by virtue of their being stronger than me. But I also hate being angry in public, and I hate taking something seriously when other people think it is a joke, so I was almost shaking with rage and impotence. The evening ended with a bowlful of spaghetti being dumped on my head (just the pasta, not the sauce, thank goodness). 

These are good, good people, and I know I'm making them sound terrible. It was just stupid, and I think Kara even stayed to help clean up. But I left. I didn't go home. I just went walking. It was still light outside, and I walked around campus, which was an exceptionally safe place anyway, but I'd never done this before--gone off on my own, without telling them where I would be. This was before cell phones, so I was just gone.

Eventually, I ended up at the dorms, where a really loud party was going on. There had been never been a loud party at our apartments, so it felt like such a new experience. Noah and Tyler were there, and they were extremely interested to see me without everyone else. They thought it was great that I was so mad at M, J & D, wanted to know what my relationship with D was, flirted with me in a way that was obviously meant to get back to D (which is hilarious because D never had a thought about me in that way in his entire existence). I was there pretty late, and then I walked back home, where Kara was a wreck, worried about me. 

She wanted me to go right over to tell M,J & D I was home safe, but I was still too upset, so she went. The next day we had Geography, and when I got to class, I went and sat by Noah and Tyler, and they high-fived each other and trash talked D, and made me feel like a very valuable object for a few minutes. 

It wasn't until late that afternoon that J & D apologized, and here is the important part of the story...J was so impressed that I'd gone off and had this adventure without them that he nicknamed me Columbus, and 24 years later, I still feel a twinge of pride when I think about that nickname. This was the turning point, when we all realized we were getting in each other's way. We stayed friends, but I stopped using them as a reason not to get to know other people. And I took the nickname Columbus to heart. These were the days before we'd acknowledged the problematic parts of Columbus's history, so to me the name just meant Intrepid Explorer.

That, to the best of my recollection, is the way it happened. Time can be wibbly-wobbly stuff in this brain of mine though, so although all of that happened, it might not have been in that precise order. 

1 comment:

  1. I also had a pretty insular group of friends my first year in college, so I can relate to this story a lot. I love the description of you losing the argument. It's so visceral!