PS: College? I forgot to add to my letter last week how much I love that no one will ever have the some experience I had while in college, because of one thing: the Internet.
See, when I was in college, email was NEW! When we registered (and paid) for college, we were issued an email address! A shiny, new, personally designed email address! (Mine was firstname.lastname@example.org or something totally lame like that.)
In order to check your email, you had to walk (WALK!) to the computer lab (computer lab!) and log in (LOG. IN.) to get to the very important messages. Just imagine. Just think about that for a minute. The following words actually came out of my mouth: “Oh, man, I don’t want to go downstairs to check my email.” I couldn’t just pick up my phone to check it, and no bell sounded when I got mail.
What kind of cave were we living in? I’ll tell you: it was called the computer lab.
Seriously though, I kind of miss it. I miss the anticipation of checking my mail. (I also still got a thrill from checking my snail box:Turner Hall, Room 513!) We had a tiny computer lab in the basement of our dorm. It was small, smelled of fresh paint and new electronics, and was one of my favorite places on campus. I miss sitting in a room humming with the sound of 20 computer fans and the blinking of the florescent lights.
I spent hours down there. (Here is where I am going to let my nerd flag fly…..) I had a word processor in my room to write papers and stuff, but there weren’t any games on it, there was no Internet access, and there were no online chat rooms.
Yes, online chat rooms. I know they are kind of creepy now, and have a totally different vibe in today’s society, what with the totally un-creepy same-as-a-chat-room Facebook, Twitter, and such, but back in 1996, chat rooms were NEW and all the nerds were in chat rooms. (I was a hipster in college. I was involved in chat rooms before they were cool.) This is how I ended up spending hours in the computer lab. I also spent a lot of time trading U2 bootlegs, which now looking back on, I am also surprised at. Now I just go to a site, click download and it is on my hard drive. Back then, I had to trade music ON TAPES. How fast technology creeps up on you and makes you feel old.
But back to online chat rooms. I met people this way. Now, looking back, I think this is how I broke out of my shell and found out who I really am. I know that sounds lame, and distant and so completely NERDY but it is true. I felt, at the time, that I had to pretend to “be” a certain person, but in the online chat rooms (Star Wars, nonetheless) I could BE ME. I could love Star Wars and write fan fiction and read other peoples’ fan fiction, and no one would judge me. They accepted me for who I was. I totally wish I could remember my chat room name, but I KNOW it had “star” in it. Starfire, I am pretty sure. But I can’t remember what my first name was. Maybe someone else can remember that for me?
Eventually I made friends with some of the people in these chat rooms, and this is when I realized that I was never going to meet men (boys) who appreciated me in Idaho. I was too……much. I was too loud, vibrant, crazy, high-strung, opinionated, and most of all, too ME.* Idaho men, no offense, appreciated a more low-key, mellow, down-to-earth kind of girl. And I am not that person. So I racked up some HUGE phone bills talking to the new people (OK, man) in my life. (Because we had to pay for long distance phone calls. Even to someone in the SAME STATE.) He got me to realize that I was great just the way I was. Something I still need to be told, and thank goodness, Biff does that on a daily basis now. It is something that I forget. Often.
I got to see how people acted in other parts of the country. I got to see how other people thought. I showed them who I wanted to be, and they didn’t reject me. Then I tried my new ME out on the people I came in contact with in real life, and although people thought I was crazy and weird and strange, I felt like I was being the real me. For the most part, people accepted me (thanks, ladies, you know who you are) and for that, I thank you.
Sybrina Starfire, Your Nerd Queen
(I am almost positive that was my name. I know people called me Syb. I remember that.)
* I had an English professor (I totally forgot his name, but shout out to him) who asked me if I was from Idaho. I said, “Yes, from a little town outside of Boise.” He looked dumbfounded and replied, “Oh, I just assumed you were from back East. You and your friends just seem so….open-minded.” That is when I started to realize that maybe I was too much for Idaho.