As a University student I witnessed a lot of different ways to live life. Coming to terms with plain fashioned old chaos was part of the whole experience for everyone. Being wretched from our homes for the first time and left alone to live in a strange new world full of people we had never met before was the feeling most of us felt at least once that first week, but more likely several more times throughout that first year.
What we didn’t know was that this common sense of abandonment and the general aura of loneliness on campus was the driving force cooking up the friendships that would keep us alive over the next four years. Not to mention the convenient grouping by relative age and interests that our classes provided. It was a virtual garden of growing social relationships, which real life in turn would deprive us of later on.
In this state, a lot of us came into our own, discovering who we really were, or who we wanted to be. But there were always moments or lapses or phases, of unsurity, confusion, pain, frustration, failure and a feeling we didn’t belong in this fabricated and temporary world. In all of these cases it was customary to cling to habits, routine, hobbies and other activities to help forget.
Some students take to the bottle with ferocity, and some do it socially but with more enthusiasm than the typical adult. Some fall into the world of narcotics, hallucinogens, stimulants and depressants to care for their budding fears and anxieties. Others I’ve seen try the professional approach; talking out their qualms about the system and about their life with a certified medical professional, or more likely a Masters’ student looking to get credit. Some students form stone solid relationships with a single other person, seeking and receiving comfort in that personal sense, isolating themselves from others for a time to cope with what they think is real life. Some devote their time to sport and physical fitness, some fall too far and develop disorder. Some stay up all night, alone in the physical regard, but surrounded by the vast and unending universe that is the internet. Others opt for the more social route and spend every waking moment with people, out on the town, around campus, expanding their real life social network by friendly converse or the collection of venereal diseases. And finally some take to their studies with meticulous and devoted fervor, spending days in the library or lab, fighting the battle of knowing all there is to know.
Most have discovered a healthy mix of all of the above and I imagine this is how the stereotype of student life was formed. All of it though, began as a way to hide the feeling that was fear of the world and being left alone in it.
But we weren’t alone at all, were we. My personal groups of friends were fantastic. Always drama filled but it’s what kept life interesting, and I’m not going to claim I wasn’t responsible for a considerable amount of said drama. By second year, out of residence, we were generally comfortable with what we thought were ‘ourselves’, and stepped one step farther into independence. Out of the swaddling clothes that was residence, into a home of our own in this new town. We had rent to remember, we had internet companies to deal with, we also had a dishwasher schedule to contend with, which fell apart far too quickly might I add. There was also money to keep track of, textbooks to try not to buy and shoes to splurge on every so often. We had to remember to eat, trek across town to get groceries, and learn to cook. There were endless “Hailey get off the phone”s, and echo’s of “Who left the kitchen cupboards open?!”, “Why is there toothpaste in the sink?”, “Why are there numbers on the microwave?!?” or “Why is there a dead squirrel in the freezer??!!?” We had to catch the bus, go to class, do our homework, do the readings, write the papers, do the statistics and every three months someone would say something about how the house should be cleaned.
It was fantastic, and I miss every moment of it.
To keep from proper insanity our friends living across town kept a collection of empty liquor bottles in their kitchen, as a commemoration of the enjoyable times they had had. A very traditional thing for students to do which in a way doubles as decoration. Our house though, by happenstance, did not partake in this particular tradition. By accident and a mutual admiration for a certain heated beverage, we acquired a rather impressive collection of Tea. This we kept on a spice rack sitting in the kitchen window. It was beautiful. It was epic. It was absolutely ridiculous. There were hundreds of bags of any flavour you could possibly want, or even not want.
There was Orange Pekoe, Green, White, Earl Grey, Hampton Court Palace Tea mailed from England, the despised Blueberry, Maple, Peppermint, Peppermint Green, Chai, Pomegranate Green, Camomile, Canadian Breakfast, English Breakfast, Irish Breakfast (You could have breakfast anywhere apparently), Lemon Zinger, Mango-somethingrather, Rooibos, Vanilla, Vanilla Rooibos and Dreamland Tea. I imagine I missed some as well. But you get the point. At the height of our collection we had 34 different flavours gracing our shelf, and we were damn proud of them.
After a time though, housemates began to get restless. There was a toiletpaper war going on in the background, it was ruthless and its’ raw and unpleasant emotion seeped into the peaceful world of our tea shelf. Bags of one flavour would be exchanged for bags in another box, prompting hateful responses and a series of very grumpy mornings. Lives were lost, cups of tea wasted like yesterday’s newspaper, but in the end there was peace. I personally blame the vile revolting person who invented Blueberry Tea. It’s all his fault.
But there was peace in our house, there was peace in our lives, and University was survived thanks to the help of many cups of joy from that wall of tea. Whether it was there for us first thing on any average morning, next to us in the middle of the night with a bazillion-page paper to do, or even just between our hands while chatting with good people over a table, Tea was there warming our insides for us, filling us with the caffeine we needed to get through another day.
I will always remember those days with a painful fondness, likely prompting another cup all the while evoking memories of a simpler time.
-Miss Hailey Jane