Things to do before you graduate
Whoever came up with the idea of the “Things to Do Before We Graduate” list needs to be given a hug.
Really, the idea is complete genius. I didn’t really ever look over the list until recently, but now I am totally sure.
My boyfriend is graduating this year, so he got his list a few months ago, crossed off a few things, then threw it in a corner where it remained unnoticed for a few weeks. One day, he pulled it back out and said something along the lines of, “Well, maybe it would be fun if I actually did all these.”
What I originally thought would be a day or two of walking dutifully around Grounds to complete a variety of banal activities has actually evolved into an epic quest against time, to complete everything before the inevitable happens.
Though some of the activities really are very simple, many are actually time- and energy-intensive, involving driving to some obscure part of town or setting aside entire days for an activity. This point may be obvious to many, but by going through and checking things off of the list, we are really getting to experience all Charlottesville — and the University — has to offer.
There are tons of things on the list that I would have never thought to do or had never heard of, but am suddenly dying to see people complete. I can thank the list for introducing me to Spudnuts and their exquisite blueberry doughnuts, which make my stomach growl just thinking about them. Perhaps in a few months I can blame the list for weight gain, as I have come to waddling back and forth to the store way too often.
Especially in the fall, though, the list has truly made us experience and appreciate the beauty of the area. Perhaps some of these things I would have done anyway, but maybe not. And so, again, I have the list to thank.
A few days ago, we drove Skyline Drive at the list’s behest. I probably had been there before, with my parents trying to see Virginia as I sat in the back, watching Shrek on the pop-down player. This time, though, it was a truly remarkable experience. The first vista made my boyfriend and I gasp with astonishment, but at each successive view, we just looked on in silence. It was really, truly gorgeous, all the patchwork trees wrinkled up endlessly in front of us. Now it seems like a no-brainer to drive it, but before, I couldn’t have said that.
We also spent a day at Monticello, a place, again, that I have visited, but only because I felt a dutiful obligation as a Virginia resident. This time, the weather was perfect, the leaves were all various shades of red, and it was a perfectly lovely day poking around good ol’ TJ’s house, admiring and wondering over his obvious genius. We had fun imagining Jefferson as a nerdy grandfather, inventing strategies based on the planet’s movements to beat his grandchildren in marbles, before calling for wine to be sent up on the fantastic dumbwaiter hidden in his fireplace.
The beauty of the list is only growing more and more apparent with each activity checked off. We are exploring the greater Charlottesville area, soaking in as much of the gorgeous fall as we can, and learning things about the school that we never knew. I can’t wait to keep helping him check more things off the list — next up, Open Observatory Night, on what I’m sure will be a fabulously crisp and clear fall night.
Emily’s column runs biweekly Wednesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.