Feeling Nostalgic

Tim in the OC Jazz Band
Playing in the OC Jazz Band circa 1986/87

Summer is beginning to wind down, though it really seems to have just begun, and as the first day of classes approaches, I have what is understandably a mix of feelings. I am, of course, a little excited but with a bit of apprehension mixed in. I have been at this place before. 31 years ago. Things have, for the most part, been going smoothly. I’ve been practicing several times a day on most days. Less on community band rehearsal/concert days. Trying to brush up on my piano skills, etc. I have hit some bumps in the road, but that is to be expected and I’ll save all that for another post…

A few days ago, the folks at Westminster sent a link to an online course that all incoming first year students need to take. I don’t believe that they thought some middle aged man was going to be taking it, but none the less… It was a course about the perils of drugs, drinking and hooking up as well as a refresher on what does and does not constitute consent. Most of these things I learned in high school but important information for the vast majority of young adults who will be going from the safe confines of a high school to the exciting world of being more independent than they ever have before.

This course got me thinking about what it was like when I was 18 and entering college for what would be my first time. This led to me looking for old yearbooks online and seeing if I could find some pictures of me at that age. This led to band pictures which don’t really have anything to do with the body of this post other than being nostalgic but they are enjoyable, if only for the fashions and hair styles. While I’m on the topic, the images were taken from the Otterbein College yearbooks Sibyl 1987 and 1988.

OC Pep Band 1987/88
OC Pep Band 1987/88

Back to the course… There were many things that struck me as odd during this course. Not the subject matter itself, but the manner in which it was presented. Back in my day (as all the youngins gather round and I climb into my rocking chair) we would be told in no uncertain terms that you are NOT to drink, do drugs or have sex until you are old enough (in the case of the drinking), never (in the case of the drugs) and until you are married (for the sex…).

This course, on the other hand, seemed to try to frame the topics so as to be as upbeat as possible and always leaving it to the student to decide what is and is not acceptable to them rather than saying that one action or another is wrong. The first section took place at a party where there was drinking. The subjects of the little play were first year students. My first thought was that they were drinking and are underage. The topic was not about that. Or, rather, it involved that but not as being something a first year, underage student should refrain from doing. Instead, it was about hooking up. The alcohol was just a part of what may lead to that action.

Later on in the course, it would be stated clearly that the policy of the college was there should be no drinking. But then another part where the difference in alcohol content between types and sizes of drinks was discussed. Educating while still giving a choice. Realizing that this rule may very likely be broken and giving the tools to deal with it in a positive and proactive manner. What we could do if more topics were treated as such…

OC Jazz Band 1987/88
OC Jazz Band 1987/88

Without going into more detail about the course, I’ll just say that this got me to thinking back to a time when I was that age and how much things have changed even while much of it stays the same. If you are going to do it, do it safely and be responsible. It is pretty much the same now as it was back then. No one was naive enough to think that some of us were not going to do one, two or more of these things and if there was going to be sex, then everyone must agree to it. I developed a taste for vodka and tequila long before I could legally purchase it. I decided rather quickly that pot was not my cup of tea and I was (at least in my head) firmly in the closet during the first go ’round at college. These days, I may partake but it has been a long time since I have had more than one or two and there are many days in between with none and I am perfectly ok with that.

I was somewhat of a light weight so it didn’t take much to get me drunk, but the point of it all was that we were responsible enough to be safe about it even if we were not supposed to be doing it. I do know that for me, it wasn’t because I took a class. Though I’m sure we did discuss much of that in high school. It was because someone, somewhere put the fear of some higher being in my head that these things were bad. And, also because as the aforementioned light weight, I didn’t like how I felt the next day…

I don’t recall many of my friends back in the 80’s as being much into one night stands or hooking up. I’m sure it happened, but that is something that seems to be more talked about now than then. Maybe I just erased that bit from my mind. I know people now in various age groups where this is commonplace now, but to each his/own. Just be safe. It should go without saying that sex is never ok without consent.

Many, if not all, of the current undergraduate students were not even born yet when the images in this post were taken. That is probably true of some of the faculty, though many of them were probably toddlers by then and some a little older. I’m sure I will have more “been there, done that” moments over the next few years, and maybe I’ll find a picture or two to share. I will say that while I do have fond memories of some things back then, I have probably pushed much of it to the back of my mind. I have retained some friendships and reconnected with others over the years. But, I’m not looking back trying to recapture something that is gone. Those groups were fun to play in and it has been fun just looking back and seeing it as something that was, (with glasses that took up half my face and a full head of thick, brown hair) and looking forward to seeing how this new path unfolds…