Maybe you realized it when you hit the wall of traffic in Hillsboro Village. Maybe a light went off in your brain when a flock of blond beauties ran past as you drove along Wedgewood Avenue. Maybe it happened when you had to nudge your wife as she sat at a green light, with a shirtless pack of Apollonian youths running past her window. Maybe it dawned on you when you heard the din flooding out of Sam’s Place, or saw the impossible crush of bodies at Satco.
You know what we’re talking about.
Vanderbilt students are back.
So are Texas plates, very large automobiles, daddy’s Beemer, daddy’s AmEx, daddy’s lawyer, and so on. Like most of us who live or work nearby and have grown accustomed to summer’s slow rhythm of life, we enjoy an easy access to, well, everything. But now, it is as if we are locals in a popular beach community on Memorial Day. We are besieged.
This morning’s Tennessean cites the Princeton Review as claiming that when compared to other institutions of higher learning across the nation, Vanderbilt University students score highly in drinking, conservative political thought, and active fraternities and sororities. We Nashvillians bless God we are not Knoxville. According to the same publication, UT was voted the No. 1 party school.
With students back, streets along certain thoroughfares are jammed. It’s not only Vanderbilt that has caused this, but Fisk University, Tennessee State University, David Lipscomb (gone are the available tennis courts), and Belmont (nary a seat at Bongo Java). Nashville is once again teeming with youth.
Your favorite watering hole? Well, it’s about to get slammed. Want to pick up a quick CD at Tower? No place to park. A new release at Blockbuster? Fuhgeddaboudit. A burger at Rotier’s? Charlie is so frantic he can’t even bring you a cold one. And don’t even think of stopping by on a game-day Saturday. What to do?
Well, put it all in perspective.
Compared to many of life’s experiences, college is one of those indelible journeys that sticks. Maybe, when one is 18 to 22 years old, the psyche is that much more impressionable. As well, the college experience itselfthe learning, the socialization, the heightened importance of everything, the brazen wasting of timeis reason enough for our lifelong attachment to what we did then.
If the return of Vanderbilt and other college students causes our daily agendas in Nashville to go briefly awry, so be it. The truth is that being stuck in traffic in Hillsboro Village or on Jefferson Street or John Merritt Boulevard is sometimes worth it. It brings to mind the head-turning escapades of our previous college lives. It signals fall, and the reminder that another year is coming to a close. It signals youth, as beautifully wasted as it is on the young.
The interruptions, let’s be honest, are momentary and brief, and worth the price. Get on with life. Keep your eyes peeled.
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