St Charles Community College called RegFest. Between that and Father's Day, it made me think about when I left home for college. I spent my first two years of college at Mineral Area College in Park Hills (then Flat River), Missouri and lived at home. In August of 1987, I packed up and headed to Nashville, Tennessee to finish my last two years (or so) at Belmont as a music business major.
The photo above is from graduation, so obviously I stayed and graduated. I was excited to go to Belmont and had been since my sophomore year of high school when I decided that's where I wanted to go. I was reminded of that excitement and anticipation of beginning to study something that I loved and had a passion for when I saw all of the students and potential students come through during RegFest. The campus was hopping.
The weekend I moved into the dorm, though? Graduation was the last thing on my mind. I'm a homebody, country, small town and always have been. As much as I wanted to be at Belmont, I had a bit of a hard time making that move. I didn't know anyone and was going to be assigned a roommate, two things that make an introvert and homebody a little nervous. I decided to be proactive about the roommate and called the housing office to get her name and phone number. I wanted to be able to talk and get to know each other just a little over the summer before meeting for the first time when we moved into the dorm. We talked a few times and would at least not be complete strangers on move-in weekend. She had a TV and mini fridge and I had a stereo. From there we figured we could manage the rest. Her name was Karen, and to keep confusion to a minimum, when I referred to her that summer she became known as "that Karen girl." So, that Karen girl and I have been best of friends for the last 26 years. We shared an apartment, lived "Three's Company" style for a year after she got married, and I was just outside the hospital room when she had her daughter. There are some things you get from college that don't even cross your mind until years later.
Every event for me was a family event when growing up, so those who know me won't be surprised that the trip to Nashville included my parents, both sisters, and both grandmas. It was a tough goodbye at the end of that weekend, but I wouldn't have made that trip any other way. We moved my things into the dorm and I went to the hotel and spent one last night with the family before they headed back to Leadwood.
This is where the Father's Day part came into this reminiscing. When dad spoke those dreaded words, "well, I guess we better get on the road"...I fell apart. I knew I was staying, I wanted to stay, I wanted to be at Belmont, in Nashville, and (hopefully) work in music when all was said and done. None of that had changed. At the same time, I hated to see my family drive away. When I was reduced to tears, my dad put his arm around me and took me to the van. He has always been able to hug me so tight that there is no room left for whatever got me upset in the first place. We sat in the van and talked; he was just a little bit emotional too. He told me that when he first left home it wasn't his choice (he was drafted and was out of the country when I was born). I, on the other hand, did have a choice. Dad said that if I wanted to go home, we would go up to the dorm, pack up all of my stuff, go home, and there wouldn't be another word said about it. I know that would have been the case (and in many ways, it would have been sooo easy), but I also knew I was going to stay the course and just needed one of those hugs that would squeeze the tears and anxiety out of me long enough for my family to hit the road.
Long story short, I got that hug, talked to my parents every Sunday and Wednesday night for the first couple of semesters, got a job at a booking agency the week before graduation (which took two and half more years instead of two), and lived/worked in Nashville for 20 years. I had hopes and dreams, but in hind sight, had no idea what was really ahead when I decided to go to college.
By the way, if you missed RegFest, you're in luck. It happens again on Friday, July 12 from 3:00-8:00 p.m. The bonus? That's also the second installment of the SCC Outdoor Summer Movie Series. The movie is "Rise of the Guardians" and begins at 8:00 p.m. It is a great family event with free popcorn, snacks and beverages for purchase, and food trucks on site from 6:30-9:00 p.m. Bring your lawn chairs, blankets, and picnic baskets. Don't miss it!
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