At Colby College, January is a month long mini semester where the freshmen and winter athletes stay on campus for 30 days and take one class. Anyone can choose to stay if they want, but for the most part the campus is pretty quiet. It's called Janplan. When I went to Colby, I always loved this month. I looked forward to it, and I stayed for Janplan for all four years. I stuck around mostly because my parents got divorced after my freshmen year and I never wanted to go back home to Connecticut. My new family was my college family.
I also chose to stay on campus because I fucking loved college. A lot of my friends played winter sports and had to be there anyway, and Evan was around for hockey. Some days we drove over to Sugarloaf for a day of skiing. We all took fun, easy courses together that met late in the day, so we could sleep off our hangovers. I remember one year taking a course that taught us the history of AIDS, and we created a video project as our only assignment.
Some of the best parties happened during the month of January, because there were less kids on campus. We had our crew that we always hung out with every night. We knew what parties were happening and where to be what day of the week. We went to the off campus bars on certain nights and off campus frat houses on others. And we drank everyday.
In Maine in January, it gets dark by around 3pm, and no matter what it was a long, cold, bleak winter. We knew how to handle it though. We began drinking as soon as the sun set, and we filled those evenings with beer die and flip cup. If you have read my book, you know that there are some pretty dark, heavy things that happened to me on campus during this time, thanks to the blackouts and heavy drinking, my freshmen year.
When I think back on the events that occurred in my past and the habits I created in college, it's no wonder I ended up on this path of sobriety. Of course I began to use alcohol to cope and escape. How did I not see it all coming down the pipeline? I wish that someone had pulled me aside back in college and warned me of what I was doing to myself. That it wasn't okay to drink the way we did.
I would like to think that the awareness of alcohol on the brain and body today is a lot different than it was 20 years ago, and perhaps when my kids are in college they will be more prepared. I hope they will come into it with a different frame of reference simply based on my own experience. But I have no idea.
The way I approached January back then was quite the opposite of the "Dry January" healthy frame of mind that so many attempt these days once the new year rolls around. I'm grateful now to be on the other side of it all and to have the wisdom that my age, experience and new found growth have given to me this many years later.