Off Campus

11 January 2005

New Years Lament

The beginning of a new year, just like back to school time, always makes me antsy. Despite being out of school after all these years I still expect things to change. Seasonally. Yearly. Shouldn’t I be packing, moving, figuring out the quickest route to class? In recent years I’ve resorted to rearranging the furniture, buying new clothes or even sharpening a new crop of No. 2 pencils – despite the fact that I haven’t needed one since the SATs.

The biggest thing I miss about the good ol’ days of campus living is the necessity to walk everywhere. Sound odd? I’ll explain.

Self-imposed near-poverty was probably the best thing for my mental, financial, and physical well being. Living on or near campus in a college town fostered a sense of independence only understood by relying on one’s own self to get to class, work and the grocery store. It certainly saved money – no car or gas payment to scrounge up sofa change for. It saved on groceries too – if it didn’t fit in my backpack, I didn’t need it. And all this walking saved me the time and expense of a pesky gym membership.

Not needing the gym throughout college, we are broken of a traditional exercise regime. Plus, why should we pay good money for a fitness level that used to be free?

Today, people are appalled at the costs of car ownership, what with escalating insurance and gas prices. These and other typical auto maintenance costs particularly hit the recent college graduate. But there is one more, often overlooked, high price to joining the well-wheeled adult world – the need for a brand new (larger) wardrobe,

Settling in behind the driver’s seats of our new adult lives, our sneakers are growing dusty while our waistlines are simply growing. No longer living in our own little micro-univers(ities), we can almost rationalize paying for additional years of academia (thus, retaining access to gym-as-lifestyle) rather than coughing up the cash for a year’s club membership.

Yes, the lack of exercise is to blame, but that’s not all. Fashion itself is talking over our lives.

Blame the new metrosexuals, blame Queer-Eye, blame your TV! Why did we turn into a world of DIY-ers, finding the need to give a facelift to everything in our lives from our homes to ourselves? What happened to substance above surface?

Holey jeans and T-shirts, once our proud uniform, are now unworthy of the light of day.
I used to go out in cut-offs or sweats. Now I have to change to run out for milk. When did I start buying milk? Why are there more vegetables than beer in the fridge, for that matter? What happened?! Did I miss something?! Did I accidentally grow up?!

Maybe I can go back for my Masters next fall. Become a student again, stepping back into campus life for a much needed change.