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Since we all have a lot of spare time on our hands, I find myself thinking a lot. Like of all my 64 years, what was the best year of my life.
I’m not talking about the year that had the best events happen in your life. I mean, the year I got married was a great one. The year my daughter was born is another. Last year around November when the Nats won the World Series AND an adorable beagle/hound mix came home with me one Saturday was pretty sweet.
But best year? Probably 1974.
I started that year as a high school senior. I finished the year after one quarter as a freshman at Virginia Tech.
What made it so great? Well, those last months of being a senior in high school were very cool. Long-lasting friendships were made. We walked around the halls of Lake Taylor High School like we owned the place. There was the prom. Graduation. A summer like no other as we prepared ourselves to finally be free of the shackles our parents had placed on us. It was going to be great.
Once there, I would say those first couple of months shaped who I became as an adult. Curfews? We didn’t have any stinkin’ curfews. If we wanted to stay out until 5 AM, so be it. We were free.
But a funny thing happened on the way to all this freedom. One Saturday night, after several Fridays and Saturdays where it seemed we were staying out until 4 AM just for the sake of staying out until 4 AM, I decided I wanted to go to bed at midnight. I was scoffed at as being a lightweight, but I soon learned freedom involved the freedom to do what I wanted to do. And, I decided, I like to sleep.
As any college student encounters, there was no longer a parent waiting at the door when you came in 30 seconds before curfew to ask “have you been drinking?” So we drank. A lot. As the musical group Big & Rich once sang, we “drank enough to drown.” But after a couple of weeks of this, I tired of waking up with a bad headache due to a few calls to Ralph on the big white porcelain phone in the middle of the night.
Maybe, I thought, drinking everything in sight wasn’t a great idea. My head and stomach were teaching me moderation. My buddies again questioned my manhood. But freedom meant freedom to tell them all to “bite me” while I did what was best for me.
I learned many other things, like not waiting until midnight the day before finals and thinking drinking an entire pot of strong coffee while studying for 8 straight hours would allow me to ace the test. (NARRATOR: It just made him sleepy and feel like he had a hole in his stomach as he luckily earned a C-minus.) And I slowly began to realize many of the ridiculous things my parents had insisted on when I lived at home maybe weren’t quite so ridiculous.
I even one Sunday morning – after sleeping in for two months and not going to church because my parents weren’t there to force me to go – decided I missed it and got up and went to church. Friends wondered what was wrong with me.
While fun to reminisce about, none of these things are what I think about these days. What I do think about is if you were born in 2002, this year would have been a similar year to my 1974, where you experienced the same things in terms of Prom, graduation, getting away from Mom and Dad and learning not to drink 12 beers two nights in a row your first week away at college.
They are memories I’ll cherish forever.
But they are also memories you won’t be able to get by going to class once a week online watching through a computer screen. I realize this shutdown and these restrictions are for the health and safety of the students.
But it’s not the same. And I feel bad for the young people who are going to miss out on all this in 2020.
Once lost, you can't ever get them back.