I was the petulant firstborn son of the town. I hadn't given myself enough time to become Non-College Daniel. I needed to create an identity for myself that wasn't linked to any sort of college gratification before I could go back and expect to have a decent time. When I was College Daniel, in a town that was built around college students, I had all of my whims catered to. The bars were geared toward me and what I liked, and so were the restaurants and the school and the way that the local Walmart was laid out. All of it was appeasing to my demographic, and once I "aged out," I initially felt a little smaller. A lot of it reminded me of why I'd enjoyed it for four years, but I was unable to hold on to that same bumpy rhythm that had enamored me earlier. With every place that I went, I felt like a dad asking his son what Tumblr was.
I was not going to be able to "pick up where I left off," in a sense. The college town had moved on and so had I, and I was being foolish to expect that I could relive parts of it simply by being there. Life doesn't work that way. It wasn't a case of proximity. It was a case of not being College Daniel anymore.
I had become a tourist in the town that I'd formerly proclaimed for myself, but it didn't suck, because ...
You Learn To Enjoy Being A Tourist
We're all eventually going to look like tourists. We're going to forget the directions to some place and ask a person, and as we drive away, that person is going to say, "Fucking tourists." We're going to pride ourselves on the fact that we're using a friend's HBO GO subscription and that we have better taste than the generation that came before us and that our bourbon goes best with listening to a band that's "just about to hit it big," and someone is going to call us a "fucking tourist" and undo all of the cool that we've managed to build up over our lives.
Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Getty Images
Not that there was much to begin with.
In a college town, if you don't appear to be within a certain spectrum of ages and jacket brands, someone has probably called you a "fucking tourist," even if you knew where you were going. And that's totally fine. The time that you spent in a place is not invalidated because you now gaze, wide-eyed, at all of the shops and sights that it holds. You don't have to constantly be Grand College Town Master, responding to every questionable remark with the hiss, "Oh, I went to school here." Being a tourist in your college town is not that bad.
It allows you to enjoy things while remaining free from the restraints of realizing that it won't be the exact kind of enjoyment that you had when you were 20. A tourist isn't constantly playing a compare-and-contrast game in their heads, wondering why all of their enthusiasm was replaced by vegan-friendly menus. A tourist is there to drive badly and leech positivity until it's time for them to make it back to their house before dark.
On my last visit, I tried to be a tourist that was aware of the names of roads. I didn't hinge my pleasure specifically on who would still be there or the explicit presence of the activities that had once captivated me. The dance club had closed for the night, and I knew my way home.
Daniel has a blog.
Some look back on college with fond memories. Others, however, have no fond memories to look back on because their college went bankrupt and their degree suddenly went void, as seen in 6 Insane Things You Learn When Your College Goes Bankrupt. They're not alone, though, as millions of poor kids get screwed out of college every year. See why in 5 Ways College Screws Over Poor Kids.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see why the worst college roommate would be the Little Mermaid in Why Disney Princesses Make The Worst Roommates, and watch other videos you won't see on the site!
Also follow us on Facebook, because we miss you since college and want to catch up.