It’s been 20 years since I graduated from college. Not sure where the time went. I won’t be going to my reunion, but I’ll be posting blogs this month about some of my favorite college memories. Here’s one now.
My college was like a summer camp. No, we didn’t do arts and crafts or canoe. Rather, just like summer camp in the movies, the boys lived on one side of the lake and the girls lived on the other side. (Within the last decade, the school changed things up and there are men’s and women’s dorms on both sides of the lake. I can’t say I’m a fan. I liked the tradition.)
The lake is in the middle of campus, and there are two ways to cross it. At the very far end is the student commons building, which serves the dual purpose of housing the bookstore and providing a way to cross the lake. At the other end of the lake is a wooden bridge. In the middle of that bridge is a gazebo, a place that reportedly served as the location for many a marriage proposal on campus.
On the one side of the lake were the men’s dorms and the classroom buildings. For the women, that meant a hike across campus to get to class. (Or at night, women could catch a ride on the eloquently named “rape van,” which provided safe rides to females across campus.) On the other side were the women’s dorms and the dining hall. For the men, that meant a hike across campus to eat their meals.
Part of our required health and fitness class was a mandatory swim test. As legend had it, the test was added after someone had drowned in the lake years before. While most of us took the class our freshman year to get it out of the way, there was no reason why students couldn’t take it senior year. And walk around the lake for four years without knowing whether they could swim with all their clothes on.
My friends and I decided we would go swimming in the lake before we graduated. We thought about jumping in the last weekend of our freshman year, but we decided that the lake should be a senior year “thing.” So we took a dip in the fountain outside the classroom buildings. By junior year, I decided to take the plunge and jumped in the lake off the wooden bridge one random night. There was no great significance to it, and to this day I don’t remember who I did it with. All I do remember is that I didn’t take off my shoes because there was no way in hell I was going to touch the bottom with my bare feet.
My senior year, there were a few girls visiting from another college, and talked turned to the lake. One of the girls asked, “How do you cross the lake?”
Before I had a chance to respond, one of our male friends answered, “We swim.”
We swim? I didn’t stop him because I had to hear this.
“With scuba gear.”
“The fraternities and sororities have boxes with scuba gear on each side of the lake. That how we get across.”
“Really?!?” the visitor asked in amazement.
“No! Not really!” I responded in amazement. I know. I’m never any fun.
The stories are great, but the most important thing about the lake is that it is the most picturesque location on campus and it sealed my decision to go there. And for that, I thank the lake.