college, 15 years later

Those of you who’ve lived in more than one place know that nostalgic feeling of returning to somewhere you used to live. You’re interested in how things have changed and how they’ve stayed the same, passing by your old building and being like, “I lived right there!” If someone’s with you on your trip down Memory Lane, you want them to feel the same way you do. But of course that’s impossible. Which is why I had a blast walking around Penn by myself. It wasn’t until I was there that I realized it’s been 15 years since I graduated. Good to know the exorbitant amount of tuition dollars I spent is still managing to pay for campus renovations and such. It was also good to see that Ben Franklin was still holding down the fort:

Ben Franklin bench at the University of Pennsylvania

Why was Ben Franklin there? Because he founded Penn in 1740. And yes, I’m talking about the real Ben Franklin, not this guy.

My old science lab building was exactly the same. I swear it’s like stepping back into 1974. I spied on a physics lecture and knew where the bathroom was and just sort of soaked up all the ambient brain power. Then it was off to the campus bookstore. Penn’s bookstore was totally redone (more of my outrageous tuition at work) into a huge Barnes & Noble. Last time I visited, they didn’t have any of my books. It felt really good to go in there and see all of them displayed on a table. You know those Sarah Dessen recommendations I linked to last time? They were all on display, with a special sign and everything! Even the Center City B&N had a sweet endcap:

Sarah Dessen Recommends endcap

One more thing about Penn, just because I’m obsessed with nostalgia. It’s a secret. If you’ve read Take Me There, you may remember the whole sidewalk chalk thing in front of the school. That message Rhiannon writes? Is actually based on a very similar sidewalk chalk message I wrote to my TA in college. And this is the exact place I wrote it:

Sidewalk chalk inspiration for Take Me There by Susane Colasanti

I remember that night, sneaking over with my friend Jordi, our flashlights, and a big pack of sidewalk chalk. I had a big crush on my TA and thought the sidewalk chalk message would win him over. That’s so not what happened. When the dean saw what I wrote, he thought it was a bomb threat. Or that’s what I heard. Like Rhiannon, I didn’t sign my name and wasn’t there the next day to see people’s reactions. Whatever. The important thing is that I took a chance. If we never try, we’ll never know.

The main reason I went to Philly was for John Mayer’s concert. It was a different experience for me. When I see John, I’m usually in the front or second row. But this time my friend Mike scored us tickets farther back on the floor. It was cool to be part of the crowd more and to see all the graphics clearly, instead of being so close that it’s hard to tell what patterns the lights are forming. I loved when John played “In Your Eyes.” And before the show we got to watch him play basketball out back. It was a good night.

Here’s to nostalgia, reunions, and many more good nights!

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15 thoughts on “college, 15 years later

    • Ben cleans up good. But John cleans up even better. It was so wild to see him playing basketball when he was about to go on in an hour. I missed some of Train to watch him, but I do believe it was worth it πŸ™‚

  1. What a lovely post! It’s funny, because I teach at UD, where I got my BA. At one point, my office was across from my undergrad mentor’s, next to my freshman comp teacher’s, and catty corner to my journalism professor’s. Every day was like swimming in nostalgia!

    • Remembering bad things from high school really helps with my writing. Most of my high school memories are horrific. I’m either inspired to use that pain when I’m working on a new book or I write the things I wish had happened instead. It’s a good way to turn a negative situation into a positive one πŸ™‚

  2. I’m so glad your alma mater has your books displayed now! They should be proud. πŸ˜‰
    I love that the chalk story is real! It’s exhilarating to actually partake in a movie moment like that! Total rush, but requires lots of bravery. (I’m in the middle of The Carrie Diaries right now, and finished the part about painting the barn.) It’s really neat to see the place where the real chalk incident took place.

  3. Wow, Penn looks like a really nice campus! I’ve always wanted to go there because of the show Paranormal State. That’s really cool that they’re selling your books at their bookstore! Congrats πŸ™‚
    PS: About One Tree Hill– I just finished watching the school shooting/Dan killed Keith episode and I am just frazzled. These One Tree Hill writers are making my heart break! I’ve never cried more from one show! But I still love it πŸ™‚

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