Part II: The Blizzard of January 1994
Part III: Joining the President's House Association
Following my invitation to become a member of PHA at the beginning of the spring semester of my freshman year, I gratefully moved out of run-down, frigid, no-doors-on-the-bathroom-stalls Anderson Hall. My new room was on the third floor, rear side, of the PHA house. I had a wonderful view of the parking lot, and the Phi Mu and Phi Tau houses.
|The back of the PHA house is in the center of this picture. My room consisted of the 2 windows on the upper right. Phi Mu house is to the right.|
All the rooms on that floor were 4-man rooms (as opposed to the 2-man rooms on the second floor), and I was living with my friend, and fellow freshman music major, Sammy, as well as two upperclassmen named Tony and Chad. Although I was glad to be out of Anderson Hall and into the PHA house, I pretty much hated living in that room. With three roommate, privacy is rare, and the room was always a wreck.
Living with Sammy proved to be, more or less, the undoing of our friendship as well. I never will forget the day we were moving in, and I was playing Guns n' Roses on the stereo as we moved our things in, and Sammy got incensed about it and essentially made me turn it off. I don't think it was a religious thing (I don't recall Sammy being hyper-religious); I think he just didn't like hard rock and didn't want to hear it. I remember being so shocked by his reaction that I just sort of meekly agreed to turn it off.
As I've demonstrated in the last three posts about my freshman year, there are a lot of things I remember about first semester and the beginning of second semester. However, following the blizzard and my joining of PHA, my memories of the remainder of that second semester are fairly hazy.
I became more and more involved with activities in the fraternity and with a growing number of new friends, and I became less motivated for classes and practicing the piano. I still practiced a lot (going down from three hours a day to two hours a day still means a lot of piano practicing), and I still made all A's and B's, but time would show that my GPA steadily declined each semester I was in college, until I finally fell below 3.0 my senior year. Thankfully, the trend reversed in my very last semester, and I raised my GPA so that I graduated right at 3.0. Regardless, that downward trend began during that second semester of freshman year.
Most of my remaining memories of that semester are just snapshots. I remember "sinking" in our fraternity's finale to our pledging period (we were called "boats" instead of pledges, and "all boats sink"). I recall getting a bleeding cut on my knee in the festivities (read: "all out brawl") that took place before the sinking (thanks Dan), so that I spent the next few weeks worried that I had gotten some horrible disease from the nastiness that we were thrown into.
I remember the family picture that my roommate Tony had on his dresser and it looked something like this:
|All 70's and rural and about 50 brothers and sisters|
I remember getting a tie-dyed PHA Homecoming '93 shirt at Senior Send-Off that I still have to this day in the back of my drawer. It's ripped to shreds from years of being worn as an undershirt, but I've kept it for sentimental reasons (not because I was close to the person who gave it to me, but simply because, along with a hat, it ended up being the only piece of PHA paraphernalia that I didn't give away myself at Senior Send-Off four years later).
My girlfriend did poorly in a very difficult elementary education class during the fall semester, so her GPA was not high enough for her to join a sorority. She was devastated about that, because all her friends were joining one, and I remember feeling really bad for her. As a result, she spent a lot of time at the PHA house with me and got to know a lot of the guys. A senior named Rob had given all of the new members nicknames, but for some strange reason, only mine stuck. From the time I joined PHA, up to the present day, I have been known to my Georgetown friends exclusively as Schmoo. Because she was at the PHA house all the time, my girlfriend quickly became known as Schmoo-ette (or sometimes Schmoo-etta).
I don't really remember our spring formal that year. Even though it was my first, it obviously didn't make much of an impression on me. I never really liked dances anyway, and felt awkward at them - especially when I was a freshman.
After the semester ended, we packed up our things and returned to my girlfriend's house in Cincinnati. I don't remember exactly why, but my parents (who lived in Houston) were not able to come pick me up and bring me home right away, so I spent about a week at my girlfriend's house. It was May, and she and I, along with her Dad, went down to the lake in Tennessee for a few days. We both remember that trip fondly. It was warm and beautiful the whole time we were there, and we had a really great time out on the boat. I remember Jackie Kennedy Onassis dying while we were there (that was May 19, 1994), and watching the reports on the news. Her death was less than a month after Richard Nixon had died.
My father-in-law mowed the grass there one afternoon and accidentally shot a rock straight through the passenger window of his car. We had to drive five hours home with the window wide open. Thankfully, the weather remained nice the whole time.
After we got back, my dad came to pick me up for the day-long drive down to Houston. I remember crying as I waved to my girlfriend as we drove away. I soothed myself by listening to Jimmy Buffett's entire discography, in chronological order, during the 16-hour drive home.
I cried because I was going to miss my beloved M, but I think I also cried because the best year of my life was over, and I had to go to a city I'd never lived in before and get a job and be away from not just my girlfriend, but all my new friends too, for an entire summer.
Those four years of college really were the best of my life, and though in later years I would look forward to going home at the end of the year, I always was excited to get back in the fall and become, once again, part of that magical community that was PHA and Georgetown College in the mid-1990's.