Spring of 1999, the year we graduated. We had these shirts made up because...we were 22.
The summer going into my senior year of college, I had my heart broken. I fell hard for a guy, but it didn't work out mainly because there wasn't enough room in the relationship for me and his ego.
Much of the courtship (I hate that word) was riddled with game playing and even though I suspected the dude was trouble upon our initial meeting, I still entertained his friendship.
(I was a sucker for tall, dark, and handsome, which this guy most definitely was.)
It was a good things didn't work out and I know this now, but at the time, I was pulled under by a tidal wave of heartache and it took me much of the summer to emerge from my love sick haze.
In the fall, I went back to Saint Mary's, the all women's college I attended, and twice a week I began volunteering at the homeless shelter in town. It was here a bunch of other twenty-somethings and me spent time with and tutored the children who lived in the shelter.
I loved my work. It felt valuable to me, felt like I was contributing something important. Most of my college years were spent obsessing about My Life: my grades, my future job, and my social life, so to take a step back and think about someone else, especially someone so emotionally and materially needy, was a welcome change.
Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, after my classes had let out for the day, I showed up to the shelter and helped the the kids with their homework. A funny thing happened that I didn't expect when I started, though. I began to make friends with the other college kids who worked with me. One guy in particular, whose name was Ben* (not), volunteered during my time slot.
A few superficial notes about Ben: He was a football player at Notre Dame, was strong and good looking,
he volunteered his free time with homeless children.
My interest in him was a no-brainer, but I was still licking my summer wounds, so I kept my distance.
One night after work, Ben invited me to dinner. I accepted the invite and we had a lovely time.
I was excited about this potential new love interest and my excitement peaked when just a few days later, Ben called me and invited me to a party at his house.
Halloween 1998. We went as Catholic school girls.
My friend, Karen, me, and Jason Jordan. Jason lived to torture me. Also, why did I think those glasses were a good idea.
The following Friday evening, I corralled my girl troops, dressed myself in my nicest boot-cut jeans and button down white blouse with french cuffs (always a trend-follower, people), and we arrived fashionably late to an already well-established gathering. When we entered the house, the smell of stale beer and sweaty bodies hung in the air. There were people everywhere, sloshing alcoholic beverages onto the living room dance floor as they bumped and grinded into the night.
I surveyed the room to look for Ben and when I made eye contact, he gave me a disinterested head nod.
I had way to much self-respect to initiate a conversation with someone who was obviously blowing me off, so after about an hour of tearing up the dance floor (not an exaggeration, we had wicked moves), we left.
As we piled into the car, I remember feeling disappointed the party was such a bust. My friends were clearly unimpressed with the event and I was confused by Ben's behavior.
Why invite me to a party and then purposefully ignore me?
My girlfriends and I finished the night at a Denny's, where we ordered grand slams and coffee and talked about dream jobs, future husbands, and our conviction that most men really were jerks.
(We also may have expressed concerns about becoming old, lonely cat ladies, but we didn't dwell on that thought too long.)
At well past 3 am, after all had outlined our hopes, dreams, and fears about our lives, we stumbled to bed.
A day or two later, Ben called me, but I was way over him and playing games.
I never returned his call and Ben was history.
Ummmm, OK, Colleen, why this walk down memory lane?
The other day, I was
working out on the treadmill, and Taylor Swift's song 22 came on. I had never watched the video or listened to the lyrics but as I huffed and puffed on the machine, I felt a wave of emotion.
Music does that to me. You, too?
I had lived this song and in a moment so many memories flooded me.
I remembered that night at the party, when I was almost 22, and there were too many cool kids at some jock infested party and my girls and me decided we were done with the scene.
I remember doing what Taylor sings about--dressing up like "hipsters and making fun of our exes, of eating breakfast at midnight, and of falling in love with strangers."
I remember feeling "happy, free, confused, and lonely in a the best way" as Tay-Tay says.
I remember those years as "magical
And for a few minutes, there in the middle of my bedroom as I tried to run off the weight from baby number six, I remembered what it was like to be 22.
It was an awesome year.