University was my first experience with “salad days”, which denote happy, fun filled days with lots of salads. I always think of BBQ’s where you are asked to bring a salad and there is cole slaw, potato salad, and macaroni salad—all of the ones that are implicated in food outbreaks. I worked hard in university. The classes and labs themselves were a full time job without the study and homework that was required in addition, but I felt like I had purpose and that my time was in my own control.
As I try to write this there is a black bird cawing away in the distance. This is my totem animal. As soon as I wrote that it stopped calling to me, so it must have wanted to be mentioned. I often get “messages” or rather stories that apply to my life from these birds. I don’t know if they are crows or ravens, but I have never known, so there is no advantage to knowing now. Don’t worry, they have never told me to kill anyone, the messages are usually more like, you are supported, or things will work out.
I am sitting on my back deck and it is hot and humid, very hot and humid for 10 a.m. on a Saturday in September, but we’ve experienced hotter than average weather all summer. I have to remember to appreciate this weather this time of year because it will be gone all too soon and it will be too cold to sit out here at all.
My focus in university was on getting into veterinary medicine. I stopped telling people this very early in frosh week, because everyone that I met was trying to get into that program and it became too embarrassing. I just told them that I was in biology, which was true.
I also swam on the varsity team and made a lot of friends. The women in my suite in residence were all very academic and so we seldom went out as a group. I did, however, go out with them a couple of times. As a group of girls will do when they are all living together, we would all cycle together and there would be times when the energy was so strong in our residence we could not help but all go out.
I have read stories about all of the girls in a boarding school getting pregnant on the same night, and although this is likely an exaggeration, it is supported by biology. We would all have the desire to go out at the same time because we influenced each other’s hormonal cycles. Interesting actually.
In second year, I shared a house with three other women. One of them had been in the same suite as me in first year and she had made all of the arrangements with the woman that had rented the place. We all lived together that year but did not get to know each other very well. I had chosen the room in the basement. Initially, the one woman said that she would take it and pay less than everyone else. I jumped at that. I would pay the full one quarter of the rent and stay in the basement. It was perfect for me. I had the basement, my bedroom and a small bathroom with a shower all to myself. I was essentially alone again and it was a great year.
By third year I had a two bedroom apartment that was the main floor of a house on the “good” side of the tracks near downtown. I rented it with a woman that I met at off campus housing. We were both looking for a place and we hit it off. She turned out to be a pretty good roommate. She was taking humanities and did not attend classes on Monday or Friday. She would travel home on Thursday night to work as a waitress in her hometown and would not come back until Tuesday after class. This apartment was about a half hour walk from the school, which turns out to be a perfect amount of exercise for me.
Finances had forced me to get rid of my car after first year. When I calculated how much I would reasonably spend returning home, which was occurring less frequently, buying groceries and going places, it did not make sense to keep insurance on the car. I know that I left the car at my cousin’s place but I do not remember if I sold it to her or if I just gave it to her. It was not worth very much at the time.
So, I walked everywhere, which suited me just fine. The university town was a moderate size and you could walk to the three essential areas: downtown, the mall and the university, in under an hour so there was never any reason to take a bus. I did rent a taxi a few times after doing a large grocery. I could walk there with a roommate and split the cost of a taxi for us and all of our groceries on the way home. That just left buying perishable food occasionally, which was not a big deal to carry home.
I stayed in the two bedroom apartment for over three years and it represented one of the longest times that I had stayed anywhere since I was 15 years of age, but I am getting ahead of myself.
My focus was on getting into veterinary medicine and so my goal in the summer was to get the experience I needed to get accepted. They needed large animal vets. “Large animal vets” are vets that work with farm animals intended for food. So yes, a chicken is considered a large animal and surprisingly, a horse is not. So, they were selecting students bases on their “large animal” experience. After first year, I took a job on a dairy farm.
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