For the school years, it’s difficult to isolate a calendar year. My mind goes naturally to third grade or seventh grade, not 1974–which would be the last part of my junior year and the first part of my senior year–which for some reason didn’t register as I wrote yesterday’s post. I had to go back and add getting into college. I didn’t think I was there yet.
1975: A big, big year, which starts like all the others. In the spring before I graduate, I turn 18, the legal drinking age, but mainly there’s relief that the draft has ended (1973). On the last day of April, Saigon falls, and the war seems, really, finally, over. After I graduate, the curfews end–my parents want me to make my own decisions while I still have the safety net of home. I don’t remember packing up my room, but I do remember sitting in the back seat of the car and looking to the right at the gas stations and restaurants as we fly up I-85 toward North Carolina. In the dorm, I have a single room and listen to Art Garfunkel’s Breakaway. Music becomes more about the albums and less about the clock radio, which I have no memory of having by my bed in college. I’m part of the third class of women at Davidson, which my boyfriend ends up choosing too, but we date other people. In the Union, with a huge crowd, leaning against a white wall, I watch the Big Red Machine win the World Series. In the always cool mornings, I roll out of bed and fast-walk to class, trying not to spill my coffee. College seems like a trip; I assume my life will eventually go back to “normal.” But it never does. Part One is over.
What happened to the story about college applications???
My clock radio was bright red and digital. I had it from 7th grade (1972) until I married (1985)!!!! I then sold it in a yard sale. I think about it whenever you mention yours. It woke me from age 13 until age 26!!!!
No story, really. One application. Early decision to Davidson and I got in. I just had it in my head that it had happened in 1975 and when I was thinking about it after writing 1974, I realized that I had actually applied IN 1974–the fall of my senior year. All the early years are organized in my mind around the school year rather than the calendar year. So it’s a little confusing. I bet you’d like to have that bright red clock radio back now!
Life never goes on as normal, I have found, as a 22 year old person. I feel as though life is about adapting to constant change. Nothing will ever be the same as it ever was. This was a stark post, and really well written. I enjoyed it, and look forward to reading more of your work. 🙂
Girl With a Pen, thanks for your lovely comment. It’s nice to know you.
Wow. Part One is over. I guess that’s right. For some reason I can’t identify, it made me sad to read that. I guess coming of age is always a little sad.
You had so much hope for Davidson–did it meet your expectations? Did you love your classes? How did it feel to be that 3rd class of women? When I was a senior in college, drifting through an academic building one day on the way to nothing, I overheard some older women professors talking bitterly about how the women students “just have no idea” how fortunate we were, and how women in the past had paid so dearly for what we enjoyed. I literally stopped in my tracks and listened for more, but they were done, and then I stood still for what felt like many minutes meditating on the truth of it.
I loved everything about Davidson. And being in the 3rd class of women seemed irrelevant. Except now that you mention it, I do remember a tiny bit of hostility from the senior guys.
And yes, the sadness of something gone forever…
I am amazed now when I look back and remember how irrelevant I considered my gender as I was coming along, EVEN AS I was fighting things, tolerating other things, and sometimes being downright blind to unjust things that happened to me because I was a woman. The ass-grabbing alone, in my first few jobs, when I was very young–ugh, how that shaped me in important ways I just didn’t have the time nor strength to consider at the time. If I could go back now with eyes open, how different the world would look. Sometimes I think it’s better I kept my head down and barreled through, but who knows….