As we're coming up on these last August weeks, I can't help but reminisce about COLLEGE!
Guys, we had it so good, and we didn't even know. College is where I met some of my best friends and formed relationships that are even stronger today. And 10 + years after graduation (eek!) I'm still wishing we could go back to school.
I should have known I was going to be an interior designer when my heart would skip a beat on the dorm decor aisle at Bed Bath & Beyond each summer. My freshman roomie Liz and I even scheduled a call before we moved in to make sure our decor would coordinate. We ended up getting the same multi-colored striped duvet covers and shams. I can still picture them, and our little room, clear as day.
My stomach still flops in nervous memory of those butterflies the morning that my dad drove the family SUV up, up, up and around the winding road of College Hill up to campus. No joke, we had a mini U-Haul hooked to the back of our SUV coralling endless boxes of my worldly possessions. In classic DiBiase style, we took a wrong turn, and Dad ended up barreling across the quad, U-Haul in tow, until we made a hairpin turn and screeched to a halt in front of the freshman dorm.
Greeted by big brawny football players who were put in charge of moving us in, I immediately regretted the U-Haul. I can still remember these guys half-laughing, half-ranting, half-panting as they shlepped my boxes up the stairs in the August heat.
Football Dude: "Jeez, what the heck do you have in these boxes?"
Me: "Oh, um, they're just my books from home!".
Football Dude: "Why did you bring books to college, you're gonna get enough of them here!"
Oops. I truly had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I just needed my pretty books on my bookshelf! Good thing the concept of a #shelfie didn't exist yet or I would have blown it up.
Our dorm room keenly resembled a jail cell with its yellowed cinderblock walls and linoleum tile floors, but Liz and I didn't care. Those striped duvets, a hot purple carpet and a classic Wassily Kandinsky poster over my bed made our little slice of campus a happy home. Add in some classic Van Gogh computer wallpaper and a hot pink cork board and we were good to go.
It was a perfect haven for some snood-filled procrastination, and 7th Heaven re-run binges coupled with some Easy Mac made in the Micro of our MicroFridge. (Did anyone else have a MicroFridge?) There may have been some finishing of a strawberry flavored handle of vodka (ugh!) on my 19th birthday but I'd rather not talk about it.
All I can say is that I'm SO glad that Facebook didn't exist yet, and a digital camera was only on the horizon. We all had Zach-Morris style flip phones or Nokias where the most sophisticated game was Snake (God, I loved that game! Can we bring it back?). Now, anything a kid does at college is basically emblazoned on their Instagram feed or Facebook page. It's terrifying! In just a decade - a blip on the radar - it seems that college life has transformed drastically.
At college age, we're only just coming off (and often still in) our most self-conscious, self-obsessed and cringeworthy years. To have the added pressure of having to look like you're the coolest and having the time of your life, no matter how you really feel, is just adding to our self(ie)-obsessed media-crazed world. It's no wonder kids are cracking. And where do they squeeze their actual school work into this jumble? It truly boggles my mind. If you're interested in more on this topic, there's a good article here.
As a parent, I already worry about what the pressures of school will be like for Avery. (And college? Whoa! One day at a time people.) I guess all we can do as parents is raise our kids the best we can and hope they are equipped with the tools they will need when they're on their own in the world.
I just finished reading Brene Brown's Daring Greatly, and she talks about the power of being the type of adult you would like your child to be. Her Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto could not have resonated with me more:
Wow. There is nothing more vulnerable then those first few moments that you're on your own. My jumbled emotions as I watched my parents drive off with the empty U-Haul that day were a tangled mess of fear, sadness, anticipation, excitement and hope. I couldn't wait for them to leave and to be on my own, yet once they hit the road I had to stop myself from sprinting after the car, and screaming "Wait! I don't like this feeling! Take me back to comfort!" But what I didn't stop to think was the pit that they must have felt in their stomachs leaving me behind. Good thing they had my little sister, #jillofalltrades, to keep them more than busy!
I know that to tie this emotional milestone of life back to interiors seems mismatched. You may even think it sounds superficial and materialistic. But here is why it isn't - and why I love what I do. This is precisely why I work only in residential design. I love the story of the person behind the room. I love the emotion behind the design. Home is wherever you make it.
A thoughtfully designed room feels like a homey retreat, regardless of where you are. The dorm room, although transient, is often the first taste of freedom. It's where you get one little extra-long-twin-sized sliver of a space. It's a wish of creative freedom granted, completely yours, free from parents, siblings and teachers. It's where you'll laugh, cry, dream, and likely more than once pass out. It's where you'll wakeup at 11 am with the worst hangover ever and have to drag yourself to a two and a half hour art history class. It's where you'll wake up from your subsequent afternoon nap at 5pm in a pile of drool to several AIM instant messages from your besties wondering where you are - it's almost time for dinner.
In the class of 2005's case, it's where you'll wake up around 8:45 am on September 11, 2001 and pad down the hall of the freshman dorm to see why there is a crowd in your friend's room, where everyone is silently glued to the television, arms around each other as they stare at the screen, slack-jawed, at a tower with a giant hole burnt through its center.
It's important to have this space be as comfortable as it can be for you as you make one of the biggest emotional transitions of your life. You come back to it again and again - first, physically, and later, in your memory. It ends up being a metaphor for the friendships you form during these formative years.
If I had the resources then that I do now, I would have gone beyond the Beyond of Bed Bath. There is so much more out there now - so many ways to embrace the dorm decorating challenge. It's like a teeny blank canvas, just waiting to be painted with removable wall decals and plastered with memories. So, let's take ourselves back to school by reminiscing with this inspiring collection of dorm decor inspo (which can easily be translated to your current petit a.p.t., teensy space or rental apartment).
And although we can't really go back, it doesn't matter, because we've already taken what we need with us.
And, just for fun... 19 Reasons Your College Friends will be Your Friends for Life + Some Back to School Ikea Stylboards