Thankfully, we were sitting on the west side of Folsom Field. It was 95 degrees, and the spectators on the east side — the student side — were melting in the late summer heat. And yet, as I looked over at them, I felt a familiar pang of jealousy. They stood in the suffocating sun, arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder. When the Buffs scored, there was a clash of black and gold, hugs and high fives. Simply put, I never had that. It’s been a decade since my time at CU, but some wounds stay fresh.

I always knew I would go to CU; I never applied anywhere else. I went to my first football game when I was a toddler, my dad’s roommate from Williams Village became my godfather, I’ve seen “The Big Chill” 100 times. I knew all about the promise of the “college experience” and found it wanting.

From the get-go, college was miserable. I lived near my high school bully. I was so terrified to run into her that I avoided hallways and bathrooms. My roommate decided she couldn’t be friends with me shortly after her parents offered to buy her a car if she would join a sorority (so important was her social stature to their own). Then there was the naked roommate, which is a story for another time. I have never been more lonely in my life.

Don’t cry for me, Argentina. The truth is, I eventually found my tribe in Boulder. My life turned out more beautiful, fulfilling and happy than I ever could have imagined. But for a long time, I believed the college experience was a scam that I had fallen for.

A few weeks ago, my mom’s 11th Street roommates met for their first reunion in nearly 40 years. They descended on Boulder from all over the country, entire lifetimes having passed since they last saw each other. They easily fell back into old friendships.

They hiked, happy houred, shared stories and pictures, and ventured back to their old abode. It was there they met Eddie, the de facto leader of the newest generation of housemates. Eddie invited them to a party before the CU football game, and they danced, partied and pre-gamed like champs. Save for more grey hair and fewer keg stands, it was hard to tell them apart from the other hundred revelers.

After the game, they drove to Oskar Blues to see an old friend, also named Eddie, play a set with his band. And once again, they danced the night away.

They were indefatigable. They made decades-old friendships seem effortless.

As they danced around with young Eddie and old Eddie, I refined my stance. The BIG college experience isn’t a scam, but it’s not guaranteed. Those who get to have it are fortunate enough to have stumbled across the remarkable combination of the right people in the right place at the right time. A propensity for dancing goes a long way, too.

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