After being featured in an article of tweets that sums up what it feels like to graduate from WVU, I decided to go a little more in-depth.
Warning: I have already consumed 2 glasses of wine so I apologize for any dramatic emotions that may pour out. The pun was not intended but, I’ll allow it.
Anyone will argue that their college was the place to be. We all have our attachments to the establishment that gave us our degree and allowed us to really experience what it’s like to be on our own. I’ve heard the tales of friends from their college towns and the shenanigans they would get into. I would never downplay another’s college or say that mine is better. There’s just no way for me to know that for sure.
But what I can tell you is the feeling of being a Mountaineer that compares to no other. The feeling you get when you drive on University Ave and see that bridge lit up with your favorite words, “West Virginia University.” The feeling you get when you’re in your favorite town surrounded by your favorite people, literally in the middle of nowhere. When it’s a game day and you’re woken up by faint chants of “Let’s go Mountaineers,” outside your apartment window at 7am. When it’s Friday night and you’ve worked your ass off all week so you can enjoy the weekends as much as possible.
The true difference between WVU and other colleges was that you didn’t just fall in love with your college, you fell in love with your college town too. In Morgantown, we became a family and embraced the culture as our own. We lived in the falling-apart, creaky and questionable houses that felt like a real home to us. We made friends with the bums on the streets and were legitimately upset when we found out one passed away. We put up with the town parades and would watch from our apartment windows on High Street, even when it caused even more traffic to begin with. We invited our friends, dragged our parents around and let the world know what it meant to us.
We talked about Morgantown as if it were a person and have said things like “Morgantown, you need a time out,” “Morgantown, why do you always do this to me.” “Morgantown, I love you,” or simply just “Morgantown…” Morgantown became a part of who you were and even if you didn’t know it at the time, it was leaving a bigger mark than you could have ever imagined.
Here’s three reasons why Morgantown never really leaves you.
1. It’s Your Safe Haven.
When I think of the last time I felt on top of the world and happiest with my life, I think of Morgantown. When I’m stressed out at work and need a pick me up, I think of Morgantown. When I want to have a fun night out, I have a hard time choosing what to do because I always compare it to Morgantown. When I try to imagine where I’d rather be when I’m feeling down, it’s always Morgantown.
Morgantown accepted me. Morgantown had my back. Morgantown showed me what it’s like to really live.
I felt safe there because I knew how much I belonged. I felt safe because I had my professors guiding me when I was struggling, my friends laughing with me when I was feeling crazy and my favorite bouncers catching me when I couldn’t stand up any longer.
If you’re a Mountaineer, than you know what it feels like to be part of this community. To yell out your window at any time of the day shouting “Let’s Go!” and hearing someone, somewhere shout back “Mountaineers!” To walk around and all you see is blue and gold, because they’re the only colors worth wearing. To show up at a party and leave with a handful of new friends. To walk around and get invited to hangout when you’ve never even met them before. To climb the stairs, the hills, frat row, as high as you could get, only to look down and see everyone together having the times of their lives, and all you can think to yourself is, “I can’t imagine being anywhere else but here.”
2. It Taught You About life.
Morgantown, believe it or not, was not all about partying. We’ve been through a lot with this town through good and bad. We’ve dealt with tuition raises, ridiculous rules based on our behavior, the tearing down of our beloved Sunnyside (RIP), big losses by our teams, tragic losses by our fellow students, struggles by our best friends and fears of what would come of us.
I can tell you one thing though, I never lost hope when I was there. Even after having the worst day, all I had to do was step outside and see the sun setting along the horizon of the mountains, watch the cars drive around blasting music, and see visible tears of laughter rolling down the faces of kids on their porches. I knew everyone was in the same boat as me. We had each others backs and we made each other feel limitless.
I learned what I wanted in my career, who I wanted to be when I got out of there and where I wanted to go. Morgantown is the only place that allows you to lose yourself and find yourself at the same time.
3. It’s Your Favorite Hello and Your Hardest Goodbye.
Going back to Morgantown after vacations was always a relief. While most people were dreading starting back up, we couldn’t wait any longer. The drive back was beautiful and seeing that “Welcome to West Virginia” sign was the best feeling. I always wonder when I’ll feel that happy to be somewhere again.
Graduating was harder than I thought and even almost 2 years later I still miss it just as much. I don’t wish I was still in college or want to be as reckless as we all were when we were together, but I miss how simple things were and how little it took to make us happy.
Leaving was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do because I knew things would never be the same. I’ll never be together in the same place with my best friends. I’ll never be able to wake up in my little apartment in my WVU decorated room to get ready for game day. I’ll never be able to roam the town and find things to do no matter what time of the day it was. I’ll never be able to feel like I did when I was there.
But, I will never forget how I felt. I’ll never forget my friends and the countless hours we spent together. I’ll never forget the ridiculous things we would do or being too sore for my own good from dancing all night. I’ll never forget game days and jumping as high as I could when we scored a touchdown and seeing everyone I love go nuts.
Things change and it doesn’t last forever, but the memories will. I still get lost when I think of the times I had. I now know I’ll never be able to top those years and to tell you the truth, I would never want to. Because even when you leave Morgantown, it never really leaves you.