A few weeks ago, my husband and I decided to take a road trip to one of our favorite places: Cookeville, Tennessee. It may seem like an odd destination and maybe you have only been there as a pit stop on your way to Nashville. It’s certainly not a big place, but for my husband and me, it’s a very special place. We spent our college years there at Tennessee Tech University, and most importantly, it’s where we met and fell in love.
We have been back a few times since graduating, but this trip was going to be especially significant because we would be bringing our daughters with us. They went to a homecoming game as babies, but of course, they have no memory of it. They are three now and were very eager to have an “adventure day.” We were equally excited to show them where we went to school and share all our favorite places with them.
We had the best time.
Our trip was full of nostalgic moments and of us trying to explain to our girls why all the places we went were important to us. We did a hike at one of our favorite spots, Burgess Falls. We got barbecue and donuts from our favorite local places, and had a picnic in a park where we used to walk together. We drove around and showed the girls our old apartments and where our classes were. My husband and I reminisced about going to fraternity and sorority formals, homecoming parades, and pointed out where all our friends used to live. We even acted like tourists and took a picture with the Tennessee Tech sign.
The whole day was so amazing, but it also felt surreal in some ways. I couldn’t help but think about the people my husband and I were when we were students there versus who we are now. Driving around town in our minivan, I kept wondering about what college us would think if they could see us now. Would they be happy with the outcome?
It’s certainly true that in some ways our lives have gotten more stressful since graduation. These days our worries go well beyond finals, degrees, and college events. We are responsible for things like bills, retirement funds, and insurance. Our weekends are spent doing activities with our kids or completing house projects instead of hanging out with friends. And, staying up late is no longer something we do for fun.
However, our lives are also fuller and more rewarding with our little family. The future we were planning for and dreaming of as college kids is now our present. Sure, life has taken some unexpected twists. We have had setbacks and times when things didn’t work out the way we wanted. But the way things have turned out has exceeded any plans we made for ourselves, and it’s still the life I would choose for myself every time.