It’s a typical Saturday night at Peabody’s. Most of us are outback in the heated tent where Alex is DJ-ing. Everyone is trying to dance to Gnarls Barkley “Crazy” within the confines of this tightly compact space. Beer is splashing, guys and girls are flirting, and the mood is relaxed and fun. It’s no different from any other Saturday night at Skidmore, eventually we’ll all meander over to T&L or maybe Gaffney’s and I’ll end the night with my veggie burrito in hand from Esperantos.
Except, it’s not the same night. It’s still a Saturday, but someone else, actually three someone else’s appear to be DJ-ing in Alex’s spot. They look as if they’ve been there forever, that this is perfectly natural, that they originated this whole operation—even though we know we did not so long ago.
The crowd is still there, tightly confined to the tent outback and the night is still relaxed and fun, only now everyone is dancing to Miley Cyrus “Party in the USA.” I don’t recognize most of these people though they all look oddly familiar. I can still pinpoint the lax girls (for you Midwesterners, lacrosse is an east coast thing) from the business majors and it’s not hard to spot the hockey boys mercilessly hitting on every fake ID carrying freshman “fresh meat” girl in the bar.
It seems not much has changed in three years. Same Peabody’s Saturday night scene. Same bartender (who dated my friend Kristin the summer of junior year) working the bar at Gaffney’s. Same crowded, narrow Caroline Street full of happy college students bouncing in and out of bars and socializing with friends. Same Eseprantos (only bigger) still serving late night food to long lines of kids. Ahhh, college on a Saturday night— just how I remember it.
There were many factors that led to my decision to attend Skidmore in upstate New York: a small liberal arts school, far from the Midwest, with a great community of students that I knew I’d fit right in to, first rate academic programs in my areas of interest, professors you could also call friends and a town, Saratoga Springs, that enhanced the college rather than a “college town,” that exists solely to support the students during the school year.
An idyllic, picture perfect Victorian city, Saratoga is situated at the foot of the Adirondacks and is equally known for its springs, horse racing, first class restaurants and shops and performing arts centers (it’s the summer home of the NYC ballet) as it is for Skidmore College.
It’s hard to say when Saratoga is more popular, during the summer when more than 50,000 people flock to Saratoga to watch the horse races or in the fall months when the leaves have turned and the town is shades of yellow-gold, copper and red. It just the kind of place you want to visit over and over again, which is why it’s not surprising that over the years two somewhat official alumni weekends mark the calendar when students return to their alma mater to enjoy all that ‘toga has to offer.
This year, my friends and I decided to miss out on the track crowds and check out the leaves, which meant for the first time since graduating we’d be going back while school was in session. I was a little nervous. I turned 26 three days before we left and had been feeling a little old. How was I going to handle hanging with the 22 year olds? I loved my four years at Skidmore. I was the annoying, perky girl in your classes who just enjoyed being in college. I didn’t want to feel like I didn’t belong somewhere I’d always belonged. But I sucked it up and went anyway…
We did the usual: breakfast at our favorite spots (home to many of our morning after gossip sessions), shopping on Broadway/main street (yes, we have one of those), touring campus (totally jealous of the new buildings), eating at all our favorite night and late night spots, and cheering our friends on in their alumni games and races.
I’ve already mentioned that we DID party with the new skiddies both Friday and Saturday night! And, I stayed out later then I’ve stayed out in years. We had an all around awesome weekend reminiscing and seeing old friends. Now don’t get me wrong, it took the entire week and following weekend to recover. I just can’t behave like that anymore (nor do I want to), but it’s a good feeling knowing I can still pretend for a weekend that I’m still in college.
It’s also nice to know that even though I’m getting older and definitely don’t live the college lifestyle anymore, Skidmore and Saratoga are still basically the same as I left them over three years ago. I can still go back and feel like I belong.