Breaking up with Athens

My roomates and I toasting to Athens from Bong Hill. Athens, Ohio.

My roomates and I toasting to Athens from Bong Hill. Athens, Ohio.

The moment you realize you’re graduating and leaving Athens will hit you like a brick wall. It might be while you’re revising your résumé for the 500th time, reading the letter your little wrote you for senior week, or maybe even when you’re standing in the C.I., hugging someone you might never see again. The harsh reality of the impending real world hits everyone at different times, but you will remember the day it happens.

I remember the exact moment when it finally hit me that the “g-word” was inevitable. It was a Tuesday night, a few weeks before graduation. Anyone reading this who was not an OU student at one time will most likely judge me for the day of the week, but hey, I didn’t have class on Wednesdays.

On this particular night, we were taking it easy. As seniors, we did that more often. It seemed the hangovers hit a little harder in the morning after four straight years of mediocre decisions. My roommates and I had no particular plan in mind and strolled into our default bar, Redbrick. Even if you couldn’t get a hold of anyone, strolling into Redbrick alone would still make you feel like Norm from Cheers.

My favorite spot at Redbrick was always the very front, on the stage by the window, where we could all grab a chair and sip MegaMugs as we watched Zaza or Brock ID people on the way in. It was the best spot to have a casual drink on a Tuesday evening, free of sweaty, grinding freshmen or glittery girls on 21st birthday shuffles.

The crowd around us grew as the night progressed. Some joined us from the library, others from different bars, and some just made an appearance for a quick drink. We exchanged laughs and recounted memories from our four years, letting minutes slip into hours. Then somehow, during a standing-on-the-chairs rendition of Taylor’s Swift’s anthem “22” and sipping the nine hundredth MegaMug of my college career, I stopped.

I looked at the faces around me, imagining the next time I would see them. The town, context, and maybe even state would be different. Some might have jobs while others might still be in school. But although I only met these people a few short years ago, I knew they weren’t, and still aren’t, going anywhere.

Our microcosm has fluctuated, as friends have come in and out and relationships have changed. We’ve seen each other at our best, our worst, and our most embarrassing. Our friendships have grown from acquaintances to support systems to brothers, sisters, boyfriends, and future bridesmaids. As we’ve grown older and our friendships matured, they became more tangible. They materialized from dorm futons to sorority and fraternity houses to leases and couches and dishwasher tallies and TV nights on Sunday evenings. Through the years, we’ve helped run organizations, survived all-nighters at Alden, gave back to our communities, and we’ve made our mark on campus. But most importantly, we created a family.

In that moment, I thought back to high school, which seems like a decade ago, and of the leadership conference that introduced me to one of my closest friends, Dave Edmunds. We were able to connect dozens of people on this campus and I often think about how different life would be had one of us made the decision not to go. I thought back to my senior year of high school and how nervous I was to move to Ohio and build a brand new life from scratch. I never imagined the community I would be a part of.

As joyous bar scream-singing continued around me, I thought back to my very first quarter as a Bobcat, when I caught mono, swine flu, and too many other illnesses to count all at once. A week later, my Dad passed away. I recall the overwhelming feeling of support from the flood of texts and phone calls I received from friends who had been strangers three months prior. I’ll never forget how this same group of young men and women helped to pull me out of the depression that kept me hidden in my dorm room months after.

Yet, as small and special as my group may seem, I understand that we’re part of a whole. That moment at that bar was just one of thirty thousand moments being had in Athens that night, hundreds of which might relate to my own. Part of the magic of Athens is that everyone has their own niche and own crowd but still remains part of the bigger picture. The Six Degrees of Separation are greatly diminished in Athens and even if you walk into a room knowing no one, blind love for Ohio University and the small town around it will unite you nonetheless.

You realize that Ohio University is a place unlike any other when your friends from high school are saying they’re “so over college,” or “can’t wait for summer,” and you’re crying yourself to sleep at the thought of leaving (whether for a few months or for life). It’s brick streets and dive bars have seen you at your most triumphant and your lowest. Athens is a place that will grab you, make you fall in love with each breezy afternoon studying or blurry night on Court Street, and make you wish you could stay forever.

I can think of no better analogy for leaving Athens than considering it the worst breakup of your life. You’ve learned all you can from each other, have grown up together, and realize it’s time to go. You pack up your things, give back the stuff you might have borrowed, and drive away. Maybe you’ll visit now and then, but it won’t be the same. But like any relationship, Athens doesn’t leave you empty handed. It has given you the confidence and the support system to take on whatever challenges you might face. It has given you an international network of people who understand exactly what you mean when you say, “I miss Athens.” It has given you the Bobcat Nation.

To my fellow graduates and those who were with me for those library and Redbrick adventures and everything in between, thank you for living the absolute perfect college experience and the most incredible four years of my life with me. To those still at Ohio University, I hope you make the most out of what’s left of your time in Athens. It goes so much faster than you think. To prospective Ohio University students: who are you kidding. You belong here.



A short update: I just wanted to say how overwhelmed I’ve been at the incredible (unexpected) response to this post!! In less than 30 hours after posting, it has been viewed over 25,000 times from over 40 countries!

Although it’s a bummer that the Athens homesickness never gets better, it’s great to know I’m not alone and I have LOVED reading the stories you’ve shared! Ohio University is such a special place to hundreds of thousands of Bobcats and I am so glad this gave you all a trip down memory lane! Thank you for sharing your stories with me, and this story with others!

81 thoughts on “Breaking up with Athens

  1. Great post! You almost made me cry but I’m at work… and thats not cute. As a 2012 graduate, less than one year removed from the breakup I can tell you that it gets a lots worse before it gets better. Actually the sadness ripples. The initial excitement of moving somewhere new and starting a new chapter distracted me from what I left behind but as I see photos of graduation and tweets of depression, I was reminded. However, I believe there is a bright side! Like any other breakup time heals all wounds. I’m counting on the philosophy “Out of sight, out of mind.” Each year as you know fewer people still attending OU I think it will get easier. So eventually the sadness and sorrow leave and anytime someone mentions “the one that got away” only fond memories of good times will cross your mind!

  2. Glad I waited until after work to read this post because it brought a tear to my eye and made me “laugh out loud” a few times thinking of my own Athens memories! Ironically, today someone asked me where I went to school. After responding OU, they asked me if I liked it, and I said I LOVED IT and miss it terribly. They commented on the fact that everyone they know who went to OU says the same exact thing.. I love Athens and all that it has taught me!! Class of ’11.

  3. I have lived in Athens for 55 yrs. Left and came back a few times. Just to let you know, your letter touched my heart. I have met many great students, and had many great times with them uptown, mainly the Pub, my favorite place. So thank you for your thoughts on OU and Athens. Best wishes and luck to you in your new endeavors!

  4. I’m sitting at my desk at work…crying. I graduated in 1999, so I guess I should say “Some things never change (well, except for the names of the bar and the soundtrack).” And I wish I could say it gets easier, but I literally miss Athens and my OU friends every single day of my life.

    • I graduated in 1977. Trust me when I say your heart will always be in Athens. And the friends you made there are for life.

    • I graduated in 1999 as well Laura, and feel the same way. 🙂 I’m Michelle. What did you study? I was an InCo and political science major.

  5. Very well said. I still hear people in college say they can’t want for summer or to graduate. And I think… that thought never crossed my mind. Bobcats forever.

  6. Oh man…love this!! I can remember those nights at the bar still so clearly- sitting there watching some of most amazing people in the world around me; and realizing that graduation was close. Feels like yesterday…not 4 years ago!

  7. Thank you so much for this article. Really. I’m a senior in high school that committed to OU for Fall 2013 not too long ago, and for so long I have been struggling with my feelings for OU. Many of my friends have dismissed it as nothing but a party school where academia goes to drown itself in cheap beer. But the heartfelt sincerity and experience you communicated through this entry has given me such hope for the next four years ahead of me…! I really hope that I am able to find a group as wonderful as your friends to call my own. Thank you for sharing your experience and paving the way, making differences in the community for future Bobcats like me.

    • Don’t let them fool you – there are MANY stellar academic programs at OU. Several are in the top five in the country. Many of the smartest, most talented people I know attended OU. Not only did they rock their academics, but they had their fun, too. Even on Tuesdays. 🙂 It is all about balance. Besides, Athens is so much more than a great place for a party. Good Luck!

    • I am going to be a junior in the fall and I remember feeling the same way as you do about OU. I fell in love with the school when I visited and was so excited to go there until my “friends” started to bash it based on its reputation. When I came to OU I had times when I felt unsure until I decided to join a sorority, where I found a great group of friends. Whether you find these friends in Greek Life, another campus organization, or your dorm doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you will find those friends that will always be there to support you and push you academically. I struggled at first with my grades, but as time went on OU helped me to become academically successful. Best of luck in the Fall, and welcome to the Bobcat family!

    • You are about to embark on the best 4 years of your life. Even better, you are going to get a first-rate education at a good price. OU is a great school with a unique campus culture that you will not find anywhere else. I’ve visited plenty of schools and never found another place where you can walk up to a house party, strike up a conversation with the hosts, and then be invited inside. You’re going to make friends with people from all over this country, some may have parents who are alums and some will have just visited the campus and fallen in love with it, Athens has an undeniable magnetism. People berate OU’s academic prowess but just remember they have the same books at Ohio State and Miami University and our professors are just as good. Best advice I can give you; take it easy until mid-terms your freshman year, learning in college is all a game and you have the playbook. The teachers will tell you exactly what the exams cover and what you are responsible for knowing, there are very few curveballs. It’s a school and you’re there to learn but once you understand ‘the system’ go a little wild and have lots of fun.

    • You made the right choice and anyone that chooses another school is a fool. I graduated over 30 years ago and Athens runs in your blood for life!!! It truly is the greatest place on earth

    • You made the right choice. You will soon understand that Athens runs in your blood for life. I graduated over 30 years. It truly is the GREATEST PLACE ON EARTH

  8. holy smokes. i am weeping. your writing is beautiful & hits the nail directly on the head. good luck in your post graduation endeavors. you will indeed make ou connections everywhere you go. i needed this refocusing trip down memory lane. thanks so much for sharing. ou oh yeah! (is this still cool to say?) cheers, brigid ’08.

  9. This is so true – and so well written! I graduated in 2010 and moved to Columbus with my husband (also a 2010 OU graduate). I was so excited to be done with classes and homework and get a job that I didn’t get too emotional about graduating and moving on – I figured we’d visit Athens often since Columbus isn’t far away. I was so wrong!! I miss Athens and OU so much and we don’t have many chances to visit. It definitely holds a special place in my heart and I value the experience I had there – it has helped shape me into the person I am today. I love OU, Athens and the wonderful community of people there – go bobcats!

  10. What an amazing and heart felt expression. OU/Athens is TRULY a special place… I graduated in 2003 and still long to see Athens, whether its bitter cold or sunny and spring time. I met some of my very best and life long friends at OU. I will forever feel fortunate to have my OU experience. I’m so glad to see such great support and pride from our Bobcats!!! O-H-I-O!!!!!

  11. I know exactly how you’re feeling. It’s true, you can’t go back in the same way, but you can go back. My husband and I are both OU Bobcats from the mid-1980s, and we have some pretty good after-graduation memories set in Athens, including those from the week of our honeymoon, which we spent at Burr Oak. With Athens, it’s always something! I’m lucky because my daughter goes to OU, so I was able to introduce her to Athens, and now I get to do Mom’s Weekend from the parent side (one more year of that!). She now knows Athens better than I do in her own way, but some things never change. After all, the CI is still there! There’s nothing like singing New York, New York at the Ci or Sweet Caroline at the Redbrick with a happy bunch of people you may not know, except that you’re all Bobcats!

  12. You made me cry, and I graduated six years ago! I literally get a homesick feeling thinking about all the greats time I had there. Athens is truly a gem! :o)

  13. Love your post. I graduated in 2008 and find myself reminiscing all of the time. Good luck in your future endeavors. Cheers

  14. Very nice article. I’m a 1980 grad and have been in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the past 30 years so don’t get a lot of chances to get back. Luckily I have a couple of great nephews who are/were in the 110 (I was in the 110 as well) so I’ve been back a few times over the past 5 years. It is always great to get back to Athens and soak up the atmosphere. The party school reputation sometimes overshadows the fact that the education that you receive there is second to none. Athens definitely remains with you and leaves us all with lots of great memories.

  15. The names of the bars are different, but the overall experience was perfectly written. I visit Athens at least once per year and still get misty when I get into town, hear Stand Up and Cheer, or see an ole friend from many years ago.

  16. I met my husband when I was a freshman at OU…at the Redbrick Tavern. We are 2005 and 2006 grads. This post brought back so many great memories.

  17. Hey girl,

    I read your article “Breaking Up with Athens” tonight. I wanted to let you know a few things that I think would make you feel better, and a few things that might make you feel worse.

    When I was around 26 or 27, a friend of mine tried to break up with his girlfriend. Her response was simply “no.” After talking to this friend about his relationship’s imminent demise, I asked him how his break up went shortly after. He gave me a look of genuine shock and “she said no. Sooo, we are still together. I know, I don’t get it either.”

    The reason I tell you this story is because your relationship with Athens is quite the same. You may “break up with Athens.” You graduate, and you leave and therefore it’s over, right? But Athens says to you: “No.”

    Athens is in your heart. She’s in your mind, in your blood; in your decision-making process. It’s in the way you throw your head back and laugh because it’s really funny and it never occurred to you to care that snorting was really unattractive in a woman. It’s in your kindness. In the way that you stop and look at people in the eye and wonder what they are going through and put yourself in their shoes. It’s in the way you hold yourself: the pride that you have from a strong backbone of intelligence but the good-naturedness that you have from…well, realizing that nothing is that big of a deal.

    It’s in the way you can relate. You can sit with someone and smile and have a conversation that is good and is right and is thoughtful.

    You might try to break up with Athens, but Athens will simply say back to you: “No.”

    There are a lot of us out here in the real world, and I am here to tell you: It’s not awesome. Life will suck, because life some times sucks. We have lost boyfriends and girlfriends and lovers. We have been heart broken: we have lost parents and siblings and jobs. But the thing that has always remained is Athens. She’s a real crazy bitch, and if you try to break up with her, she will not let you go. And for that, I will say welcome to the greatest club on earth. Because she is not a place or a feeling or a moment in time. She is us. Your Athens is not ending; it is just becoming so much bigger than you realized she was. She is New York, New Orleans and Newport. She is Chicago and Cincinnati and Columbus. She is Denver and Dallas and Missoula (not an alliteration, but you should go to Missoula! Great town.) She has taken me so many places and it is with her that I ride comfortably.

    I wish you the best in your future endeavors. As a fellow Bobcat, please feel free to reach out to me.

    Also, please stop listening to Taylor Swift.

    • As if the original post wasn’t fantastic enough, this response makes it even better. This is so true and so comforting. Once a Bobcat, always a Bobcat.

    • Love what u said it is so true, but I will never ask Athens to break up with me because I love her!!!! We are separated by miles but my heart and soul will always be there and me physically at least a few times per year. Lucky that I had two children attend. The last one just graduated. His heart was broken by the thought of leaving. It was a bittersweet weekend.

  18. Well that was a great way to sum up how all of us who have gone to OU feel about our Alma Mater and Athens. Well said and while some of the bars have changed the sentiment has not, as I to agree Ohio University is a place we leave but always keep with us and have a desire to be there and it is a place were you are united to your fellow Bobcats just from having gone OU a special special place

  19. I am a 1993 graduate and I have an emptiness knowing that those 4 years are gone and will never return. I am a mother of 4 and LOVE my life, but nothing will ever compare to Athens and OU. Embrace it, OU students! Take 5 or 6 years to graduate… heck, jump into grad school right away. Once you graduate and enter the “real world”, you can’t go back to the greatness of being an OU student. It is truly a brotherhood/sisterhood that connects a bobcat to a fellow bobcat for life. I just pray one of my 4 goes there so I can watch them have the time of their life in the most beautiful town in Ohio:) and visit for mom’s weekend!!!

  20. I remember my ‘moment’. It followed finishing my last final exam in Dynamics. I realized I had done it. I aced the test and would finish the required class with a D, pass the class, and therefore graduate. Walking away from Stocker Center alone I cried like a baby. Not sure of all the reasons, I just did. OU is the perfect college experience in so many ways, and I adore those years on the brick streets of Athens. You nailed it when you said “I can think of no better analogy for leaving Athens than considering it the worst breakup of your life. You’ve learned all you can from each other, have grown up together, and realize it’s time to go. ” JMR 1998

  21. The only reason I looked forward to summer as a Bobcat was because I was an orientation leader (precollege advisor) and graduate intern with some of the BEST staff members ever (1994-1997). Nothing better than welcoming new OU students and parents by day and celebrating with your Bobcat status by night. You never stop missing Athens or OU, but you carry your OU pride in your heart every day.

  22. As a 1998 grad (a lifetime ago, it sometimes seems), I can say that in this moment, you may try to break up with Athens, but you never will. The changes you have gone through there, the growth and learning, will forever be entwined with this small town in the Appalachian foothills.

    As ep333501 said, there will be times going forward when life is awful and mean, there will also be great moments and better “best times”, but they will all be taken in through the lens of your experiences at OU and in Athens. At the hardest times, Athens – the place, the friends you have made – will always be there to help. Get home to those brick-lined streets as often as you are able, even if you only travel there in your heart.

    A few years ago, the alumni association shared a song that a fellow alum, Mae Klingler, had written and performed about our shared home. My sister (a 2002 alum) and I still send it to each other from time to time to remind us of our strong ties to Athens and our shared experiences. I’m posting a link here for you.

  23. Wonderful story! I can do nothing but agree wholeheartedly. And yes, I did get a bit choked up. Only my breakup was from a much longer relationship. I am what many OU students referred to as a “townie.” I was born at O’Bleness, lived on West State Street and North Congress before ever attending college, and going to West Elementary, Athens Middle School, and Athens High School. Both my parents were employed by OU, so it was a logical decision for me to attend.

    Only when I became an official college student, I never felt like a “townie.” I felt like a part of a much bigger community. Sure I still hung out with friends from high school, even lived with them for a couple years. But as my time in college moved on, so did my high school friends. New friends came along, friends not from Athens. Those are the ties that still bind me to Athens (of course my mom too!).

    I worked at bars all through college (shout out to my friends at the former Greenery!), and that gave a shy guy a chance to open up and be a bit more personable. As much as I loved my time in Athens and at OU, those fun times and foggy memories are a thing of the past, and something I cannot imagine (or physically capable of) going through again.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that it would be a high percentage of graduates met their spouse at OU. I did, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. Not only did I find a wonderful wife and mother to my 2 boys, but all of her friends became my friends, and I have OU to thank for that. It’s fun to go through all the stages of life together – jobs, marriage, children, whatever is to come next. I only wish that Facebook was around when I was there so that I could have connected sooner.

    Thank you for writing your story! It gave me an opportunity to reflect on some good memories, as we so quickly move onto the next stage of life and become consumed with career work. We tend to take things for granted, and I wish I could have realized how much of a good thing I had going during my time, rather than years after.

  24. I simply could not break up and that is why I returned–I am now a professor here and here I will stay. It is different as an “adult” but so many things are the same. Athens is the one girl I just couldn’t quit–even after some long breakups and other suitors!!!

  25. Pingback: 17. “Where do you go when you’re gone? Sometimes the road feels so long” | wthwds

  26. ” … the worst breakup of your life.” So true.

    Thanks for sharing this with all of us OU alum. My group of gal pals from college still gets together every other year, and we party like we’re 21. I still head back to Athens at least once a year, despite the fact that I live in Phoenix. Just can’t get enough, and hey, whenever I go back, it still feels like home!

    We love you Athens!!!!

  27. I can’t stop looking at your photo! I want to recreate it with my OU best friends when we attend our (gasp!) 20th OU Homecoming this fall. The love doesn’t fade!

  28. “worst break up of my life” – I could not find a better way to describe leaving Athens. I was born and raised in Brazil, and I am currently sitting in my office in Sao Paulo. I remeber when I moved to Athens. Coming straight from Brazil, I had so many uncertainties of whether or not I would like the city, or most importantly, if I would fit in. Not only I fell in love with the city, I have had the best experiences of my life and I have made my best friends.

    It kills me to know that the best years of my life are behind me, but I am really glad I got to live them Athens. I love to read stories like yours, because people in Brazil do not understand why I refer to my college experience with so much nostalgy and pride. So for that thank you.

  29. Great post. I left Athens over 20 years ago. And every time I drive past or into Athens, I feel like I am home! No matter what year you graduated, you are connected to every Bobcat you met. It does not matters whether you are a current student, recent grad or old time alumnus you are connected to each other. I met my wife at OU and we are surround by our Bobcat family. Lifetime friends. Congrats to all grads.

  30. Your post gave me goosebumps. And it made me remember my moment…we were at karaoke night at a bar that no longer exists on Court St. A guy I knew from a few Video classes was singing “I’ll Stop the World and Melt With You.” This guy was one of the “too cool” dudes who always played everything off like he didn’t care. Nothing bothered him, nothing impressed him, nothing got to him. He wore black leather and let his hair grow long. He questioned profs and challenged other students in class just to get a rise out of them. That’s why what he had to say during the musical interlude of his song knocked me off guard. He took that moment on the stage to proclaim his love for Athens and Ohio University. He was about to graduate and told everyone through the mic that they should not waste a single moment in Athens because they will miss it when they’re gone.
    There he was, the guy who didn’t care about anything, but he couldn’t control his emotions about Ohio U. That’s when I knew everyone who goes to school there has the same exact ties and feelings about it that I do. We all love it, we all miss it. We all have shed tears over it after we’ve graduated and moved away. We all want to go back. We all know nothing rocks as much as being in that town.
    I graduated in ’98 and moved 1100 miles away. And it’s always the same whenever I visit – the faces on campus have changed, the names of the bars may have changed, but they all welcome me back as a though I never left.
    Now I am a TV producer and marathon runner, which both take me around the world. It doesn’t matter if I’m in Alaska or Miami, whenever I wear my Ohio University shirts, people always come up to me and say something about how great Athens is. It’s a special bond we all have.
    Thanks for sharing and best of luck to you!

  31. The first six months are the hardest but I hope, like me, you find that feeling of “how nervous I was to move to Ohio and build a brand new life from scratch” is the feeling of challenging yourself and moving forward. I hope you grow to love that nervous feeling in success.

  32. Back in 1994 I clearly remember my last farewell to Athens. It was actually at the start of the school year – following the summer of 1994. I drove back into town Visited my best friend who was later my best man. Said a final good-bye to two former girlfriends. Then after two or three nights in town drove west, and didn’t return for 12 years.

  33. I graduated in 1991. Somewhere around my junior year they were doing maintenance on a road and I picked up an Athens Brick and put it in my purse. I kept my little piece of OU for 20 years. I never had a chance to go back to Athens, but I carried that brick in the trunk of my car until last year when it was lost in a move. It made me sad all over again to have left.

  34. I stayed maybe too long. I took a job at WATH. The WATH gig didn’t work out but I stayed about 15 months after graduation. It was way different as a “townie” once the umbilical cord to mother OU was cut. By the time the next job offer came, we knew it was time to go. To quote the old Flamingos song: “Though we must part; There’s no reason to cry. Just say so long; Because lovers never say goodbye.”

  35. I am ’68 graduate. Both my sons graduated from Ohio U (’00 ’08) Nothing changed in all these years except the names on the tops of the bars. What is great about Ohio U is everyone is watching out for everyone else. They all want to you succeed. There is no place like it anywhere. You can not explain it.

  36. This is so awesome. I have never met any friends that are more genuine and true to our friendship as the people I met in Athens. I miss that place everyday. But, as I look back at all the crazy nights I used to have I and comforted by the fact that there are kids having the same memories. Athens will forever be in my heart. It is in someway an extension of who I am. Without that place and the 4 1/2 years I lived there I wouldn’t be anywhere near the person I am today. And for that i thank you OU, Athens, and all the amazing people I met along the way.

  37. Loved reading this. I left in 1979 and felt the same. I came back and was married there, lived there for a few more years, then left again. I came back for visits when my daughter went there, and my son went to Hocking Tech. But the feeling you had shared here transcends time or gender. Without a doubt it was the best time of my life.

  38. You have truly captured what it is to love Athens. As a graduate of 2009 and having met many new people after leaving our town, I have realized that not everyone has this view or feeling toward their school. What a shock! Athens and OU will always have a place in my, and your, heart, but other places will grab a hold as well. Don’t get me wrong; I still schedule trips back “home,” but other places will eventually turn into a home as well. The Bobcat Nation is strong; so strong that after I graduated, moved out of state, and went through another breakup, a Bobcat who graduated 3 years ahead of me took me in to live with her. The only thing we knew about each other is that we worked at the same school and both attended the happiest place on earth during college. No matter where you are, that bond is incredible. Though I have moved out of her home, we are still best friends and unbreakable. Thank you, OU, for giving me the best people and memories a girl could ask for.

  39. Due to the unhealthy number blackouts I incurred, as well as the copious amounts of illicit substances I consumed during my 4.5 years at Ohio University, my memory of Athens is hazy at best (especially 5 years later), so it’s somewhat difficult for me to relate to the feelings and experiences the author describes in this post. It *is* a fantastic read though. Ohio University is showing once again that it produces excellent writers. I’m very pleased to see that.

  40. Class of 1970: It is 43 years later and I still have many wistful moments of the years in Athens as a Bobcat.
    Your included photographs are great! Thank you for the visual visit and your blog…

  41. 20 years later, I still miss Athens. I love my life, keep in touch with lots of Bobcats, but nothing beats the four years of being a “rookie adult” at OU.

    • Obviously you never attended OU so you will never know. It is totally your loss. I am sad for you as you missed out on the greatest college experience possible. I graduated over 30 years ago, two of my children attended OU and they too understand what it means. It is something that we do not even have to explain because unless you experienced you can’t understand it. It is just a fact of life ofr those of us fortunate enough to have experienced the Bobcat journey

  42. I cried all the way to Nelsonville in the June of 1993 and remember it like it was yesterday, the longest drive of my life, driving away from OU. Once a Bobcat, ALWAYS a Bobcat! Thank you for reminding me of that not so long 20 years ago! I loved my 4 years in Athens and wouldn’t trade it for the world!!

  43. What a great memoir… I had to leave OU and drive all the way to Minnesota. It was exactly like, as you say, a horrible break up. I did make it to the following seven homecomings, but haven’t been back since. OU/Athens is a wonderful oasis to educate, grow and discover yourself. It was a great bubble for five years. No one would understand unless they went there. Thank you for putting this whole feeling into your own words.

  44. Pingback: Lovely Links | Polish my Crown

  45. I graduated in 1977 from OU. For those that did not attend OU, they will never understand the feeling. I hated to graduate and leave the greatest place on earth. We OU Bobcats have a universal bond that no one else can even begin to understand. When I think about it I can’t stop smiling. When people put the school down that have never been there, I am sad for them because they are fools! The description of the worse breakup is so true. Walking into a room knowing no one and having your blind love for OU unite you is so true. The memories are flooding into my head. Actually they are always there. I was lucky enough to have two of my children attend OHIO and they too understand that they did college right. They also helped me enjoy Athens again like old times!! My youngest one just graduated and he fully understands that he made the right choice and he is very sad to physically leave the campus and town but he already knows where his HEART EILL ALWAYS BE. If people from other schools are sick of the college experience and can’t wait to get out, it is their loss. Who would have ever thought that a small college town in southeast Ohio would have grabbed onto my heart and never let go!! Cleveland has some outstanding alumni gatherings but there is nothing like returning to Southeast ohio and seeing that sign for Athens County as we roll down the road on Route 7!! It is the greatest feeling! Ok done for now.

  46. Thank you for the trip down memory lane. Athens is a place that cannot be duplicated! My husband and I were on campus during the late sixties and early seventies–those experiences made us better people as we all struggle to understand life! The people and the many discussions at bars, dorms or on the grounds of the beautiful campus are the best of memories! Thanks to all of you who reminded me that those sentimental feelings of OU that I feel, are part of so many–we are all connected!

  47. Very nicely done. Beautiful sentiments. Even though I graduated a millenium ago (figuratively and literally), it brought back the bittersweet thoughts of my last days on campus in (gulp!) 1971. But do one thing: Show the quality of your Ohio education and change the “It’s” to Its” in the 11th paragraph.

  48. I graduated in 1984, and still miss Athens. I am fortunate to have a daughter that made the wise decision to attend O.U. She called me crying when it was time to leave just for the summer. Now I can go for Homecoming with my friends, mom’s weekend, parent’s weekend and whenever the need strikes. My parents graduated from O.U. in the 60’s and they still look forward to going back. We are all going to Homecoming in the fall. It is true you can’t break up with Athens.

  49. Loved your post, my four years in Athens were defining for me. I went back for my first visit 29 years later, it seemed not a day had passed.When ever I run in to another Bobcat a smile ignites, we all share something special. I feel fortunate to had landed in OU and spent time there. Once a bobcat…always

  50. I have dreams I am back in college at OU. My 4 years there were wonderful years. Make sure you plan reunions. Luckily, I have gotten together several times with my Chi O sisters in Athens and we have relived all the stories and some of our Court Street expieriences.

  51. Reblogged this on Tessa Brediger and commented:
    One of the best blog posts I’ve ever read. It sort of goes along with my post about Halloween here. A wonderfully written piece. If you’ve never been to Athens, or you didn’t go to OHIO, I highly encourage you to check this out. Bravo.

    • I have returned often since I graduated in the late 70’s. you will have friends for life and an experience that people who did not go to school there will never understand. Hopefully someday, you will marry someone who went to OU because then you will not have to try and explain the love that never dies to someone who can never get it like my wife!!!

  52. Thank you so much for sharing this! I knowwhat you’re talking about when that moment hits you that you’re leaving….mine was a few days beforethe day I was to move out of the Commons and packing my things. I took a drive around town and tried to take in every second knowing I could always come back to Athens, but nothing would ever be the same again. I graduated in 2003 and to this day every year, we (my husband who attended Hocking while i was at OU, and I) head back around labor day and stay for a couple days and now share the sights, sounds, and fresh morning air with our children who are 3 and 1. I love Athens and the memories I have been fortunate to have made while there. It will forever be a part of me. Thanks for sharing!

  53. Loved your post. You really hit the nail right on the head. I honestly believe in signs and I am actually getting ready to see a bunch of my Bobcat friends this weekend for a wedding and honestly cannot wait. I graduated in ’10 and some people do move on but it’s all about having a plan to see your crew again. Whether it was having everyone go to homecoming, or we rented out a steam boat here in Cincinnati and had “date parties” and would do a Christmas party bus every year.. We still make a plan to see each other. Always have a plan! The people you meet at OU are truly rare finds, try to keep in touch as much as possible and have a plan to see each other.

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