Thursday, September 13, 2012

don't you love New York (er, Chicago) in the fall? it makes me want to buy school supplies.

freshman picture, Fall 2002

when the summer humid air changes into a cool, crisp autumn breeze.
when toes curled in the sand becomes toes curled into fuzzy, knee high socks. 
when the flavors at Starbucks are Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Caramel Apple Ciders.
when You've Got Mail becomes one of the most quotes movies of the season all over again.
when the green leaves of summer days stat to fall and turn into the brilliant colors of yellow, orange and reds.

i can't help but think back to old school days - but not too far back, nearly 11 years ago. my memories bring me to the days of walking onto a college campus for the first time, meeting new people, and attending a brand new school in a very brand new city as a a nervous excitement burned in the middle of my whole being. and of course, a flood of worries had been washing over me since i left home (17 hours away!) - will i be okay with being so far away from my family? i have to live on a dorm floor with 40+ women - will they like me? will i like them? isn't Chicago the murder capitol? i'm totally gonna die here - if not by my schoolwork load, but by murder. then there is the freezing cold weather they keep talking about - that's it. forget schoolwork or murder, i'm gonna freeze my Southern tush to death.

but little did i realize that those questions or worries would be the least of my concerns. i missed my family - but we learned to keep in touch and learned when to let go. i adjusted to living on a floor with a mass of different personalities - but then ended up loving every bit of dorm life (don't know if i can go back to that now - but i def had some of the most memorable, laugh until your cry moments on those dorm floors). school work load - did and done. as much as i had days where i was ready to burn the next 25 page paper that i had to write, i loved the classroom and my professors - and my love for learning grew more than ever in those 4 years. as for the cold weather, gangs and murderers - i'm alive, aren't i? bundled in more than enough layers for the human body, probably slipped on the icy sidewalks on more ways i wish to recall - and the key in avoiding those crazy murders is to go run your errands in the dead of winter because even the bad guys are in hiding from the bitter-cold, knife-slicing winds of the Windy City. 

looking back at those 4 years, college was more than textbooks and meeting deadlines, adjusting to a new way of living or being socially accepted, or surviving in a new city. just like autumn this time of the year, college was a new season of life. it was where i experienced so much on my own for the first time. i made decisions without a parent right there ready to help make decision or make them for me. it was the first time a boy broke my heart and i experienced the emotions that came with that. first times for all-nighters, the forming of coffee addictions, Spring Break mission trips to the Philippines, dealing with body image issues, losing a friend to suicide, needing God more than ever before, awkward DTRs (defining the relationship conversations at a 24-hour Starbucks - ha!), the opportunity to be a RA (resident assistant to 20+ college girls), road trips all over the mid-west, living with the closet knit group of life-long friends (and staying friends with them even today!), constant, growing love for literature and writing, and never feeling like you got enough sleep the night week month before.

those experiences have shaped and molded me in so many ways. i am so grateful for the support that my parents provided for me to go to college, the education from fabulous professors, and the life experiences that i went through during those 4 years on my own. i would have to say that those 4 years were probably the hardest 4 years of my life; however, they were also the most fun, exhilarating, and life-changing years that have prepared me in no other way to be the woman that i am today. 

and for that, i am so grateful. 
much love.
{happy friday, friend.}


  1. I would have loved to have known you in college. Can you imagine our midnight Mickey D runs and daily boba drinks? PS... you are so pretty! Love that photo of you!

  2. So fun that you were an RA!
    and I cannot wait to pull out You've Got Mail...maybe this weekend! It's one of my faves! I love fall!!!

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  4. oh my ...i LOVED this post.

    not only because i had the privelage of living across the floor from you one of those fun years, (( yes!! Ilene was my college RA!! LOL!!)) but because all of those words brought back so many memories. as I grow I consistently look back to my time at MBI as one of the funnest times in my life. And hard. And growing. And..and..and..
    I love you, illy girl.

    p.s. you've got mail! bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils :)

  5. i love that you just dropped "DTR" in there... :)

    also i loved loved loved college too. and i miss it.


  6. Ilene,
    I don't want to be nosey, but I am concerned about you not mentioning Ryan anymore. I know it must be difficult to share about a relationship online.. I just hope you are both ok, even if it means you had to move on. love

  7. I loved this post so much that I had to update. I just watched You've Got Mail for the first time recently and instantly fell in love, especially with that iconic, whimsical little line. Still being in college myself at IU, hearing your memories and worries and joys of being in college in Chicago was lovely. It was a very heart-felt, lovely post.

  8. I wish I had had this kind of college experience!

  9. beautiful blog! and yes, September always makes me feel as if I need to start sharpening pencils and buying a new backpack! I never went to college but I am taking some classes this year, and getting really nervous!

  10. I love this post! I only went away to college for a year but it was such a year of learning and transitions. I miss things about college like the schedules and living with a bunch of girls! although there are things I don't miss too and I do like living with my husband much better!: ) where did you go to school??

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