Like KFC and, well, I can't think of another right off the top of my head, My Town Monday has gone all anacronym on us. Me. Whatever.

I suppose in light of the JAYHAWKS playing the...who are they again? Some nobody team from the south. North Carolina? No, wait we beat them. Oh well. It doesn't matter. Anyway, in light of that, I suppose it would be appropriate to write about Lawrence, my college home.

To me, Lawrence is significant because it was the first place I went where I felt I belonged. I grew up in a few places before then, but Lawrence was it, my domo, and I was fortunate enough to recognize it when I saw it. I realized it the first day I walked to class. I lived in this horrible girls' dorm where boys weren't allowed upstairs but when I got outside, I was free to meet and smile and live and be anyone I chose to be. I walked to class, first day, and saw this grungy kid, well, gee, he looked old to me--maybe 21 to my 18, standing in front of this little sandwich place by the Kinkos and he smiled at me. "Hey," he said. He was grungy cuz he was leading-edge--this was the early 90s when the rest of us were wearing stirrup pants and big shirts over.

That was it. Smile. "Hey." Funny how those things stick with you. Remember that the next time you smile at someone. Anyway, the sun was bright, I was a skinny, I guess half-way cute freshman, and he said "hey." And I thought, he's happy to be here because this is a good place.

Actually, my first introduction to KU and Lawrence was as a high-schooler. I went to the art school and saw all the art and the kids, portfolios in hand or working on stuff, the paint-splattered teachers, the piercings, tattoos, mediocre to magnificent art hanging haphazardly on the walls, and something in me sagged with relief that there was a place like this on earth, not just in my dreams, and only thirty minutes from my high school home.

Something happened and I forgot about the art department. I never took a class at KU in art. Crazy, I know. I had...well, that's a story for another day. We'll call it a poor influence by a well-meaning bourgeois. I went into Education, which I do not entirely regret. Someday I hope to make use of it again.

I was there in 88 when KU took the crown in Basketball. We have a long history in basketball, including James Naismith, the inventor of the game, as our first coach in 1898. I happened to meet a girl today who was there that night we won. Thirty thousand people converged on campus, and though there was some vandalism, it was not like the riots of today. Everyone I've ever talked to about it describe it as utterly happy and thrilling--never frightening--one of the highlights of our college careers. It was one of those nights you never forget. I met Danny Manning, still have a picture with him (I'm short, he's tall--we were a novelty). Very reserved, nice guy. Never heard a word against him. He's up for the Hall of Fame now.

I still have my best friend from college--she was my maid of honor and though we are poor at keeping in touch, we do try. I still have my husband too--we met at KU, his second weekend there, and never looked back. We were married in the Methodist Church in Lawrence--ten minutes of God that somehow seemed to change a happy relationship into a better one.

I still have my barrel from "The Hawk," one of the local college bars. It holds my pens on my desk and the date on the thing is 1985. There were only 2160 made of them that year--says so right on the glass. I never drank from another glass while I was in there--buck and quarter to fill up on Thursdays for four years. It's 24 oz. We chose our apartment primarily because of its proximity to the Hawk--one block away--and because my roommates boyfriend was our landlord and he gave us a screaming rate. I didn't get into too much trouble at the Hawk, but I did pick up my first nameless one-night-stand at the Hawk. That one...hhmmmm.

I remember cold days of trudging through snow, hot days of sitting on Wescoe Beach (the plaza outside Wescoe Hall) and the Tan Man. I remember stuffing myself with pizza, making a ten dollar bill last all weekend (85 c beers at Bullwinkles on Friday afternoons--free if you were the only girls in there and flirted with the bartender). I remember screaming sessions out at Clinton Lake and hot ones from Joe's Donuts.

Some people say college is the best time of your life. It might just be, if you do it right. I did it all right.

And the Jayhawk still hasn't flown away, so apparently a virgin has yet to graduate from KU.

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