St. Olaf Sentiments

When I was younger, at a sleepover, my parents would come to pick me up and I would beg for another hour because I felt like it hadn’t been long enough. Now, after a four year sleepover, it’s still not enough.

My dad used to say, when I was in the process of picking a college – and, eventually, when I chose St. Olaf for real – that I “drank the Kool-Aid.”

The idea of college doesn’t become real until you have to hug your parents goodbye. Walking out of that gymnasium, trying to look brave, I found myself surrounded by teary-eyed freshmen. There was a crying girl walking next to me. Being unequipped to handle this situation I looked for anyone to help me. I made eye contact with the boy on the other side of the crying girl. That boy from Wyoming turned into one of my best friends.

I didn’t hold back the tears. Actually, as soon as I moved to the Hill, I hardly ever held back the tears. I drank the Kool-Aid and surrendered myself to the wild emotional adventure that the next four years became. St. Olaf became the best thing that ever happened to me, simply because of the hundreds of thousands of everyday moments I’ve gotten to share with friends and classmates and teachers and all the people I’ve met along the way.

She didn’t hold back the tears. The first day on a Hoyme window seat – back when Hoyme still had window seats – on the second floor we didn’t hold back the tears. Later that day, in response to one of her questions, I told her, “if this friendship continues, I’ll tell you.” Little did I know.

He told me the next day. The friendship continued. I don’t even remember what I asked anymore. Probably something personal about an old girlfriend, or something like that. We met more friends, shared cookies that somebody’s mom sent along for move-in, watched Paranormal Activity 2 in a dorm room and marched down Ole Ave with a pack of other Hoyme babies to experience our first Jesse James Days.

It’s weird to think about. If, tomorrow, I packed up my things and moved to a new “St. Olaf,” and sat on a window seat with a complete stranger, what would I say about the last four years? I’ve been to class, I’ve done hours of homework, I’ve learned a lot I hope but the things that stick out, the things that are window seat worthy are the almost imperceptible moments. The Jesse James Days, the Pause pizza, the poop jokes and the people you’ve shared those moments with.

Do you remember the first snow at St. Olaf? We built a fire in the Hoyme lounge back before they remodeled the building and made it bright and updated like some sort of hotel and baked cookies and read books and nobody could stop smiling.

That was one of those rare moments when I realized I was living through a lasting memory while it was happening. Remember the first time we went sledding? It’s funny that most of our memories involve snow. We took trays from the caf and made long sled chains, I tried snorting snow and we took too many pictures of us trying to look “cool.”

How about the time we spent a Saturday trying to film a St. Olaf themed version of The Breakfast Club? Or the night a whole bunch of us ran naked through the baseball fields when nobody else was around? We watched Lutefest die. We watched Cherry Berry open and then close. We went to probably at least 25 Pause dances – some super fun and some awful. We knew Hoyme when those window panes were red. We lived on campus before road signs and roundabouts arrived. We watched potstickers in the Caf take a leave of absence, and we happily welcomed their return. We elected civil servants, defeated some Minnesota amendments, attended demonstrations, started conversations about sexual assault and had open dialogues with one another. As Oles, we have grieved, celebrated and worshiped together.

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