All Good Things Are Wild & FreeOne of the reasons we’re so scared when our children leave the nest is because we remember our own flight.

The pure joy of leaving the straps and bindings of our parents’ rules is still nestled deep in the happy place of our subconscious. We savor the memories of tossing out their warnings and racing into wildness – a place we weren’t allowed before.

Which brings me to my freshman year in college.empty nest. birds leave nest

I hadn’t realized I’d been bound and gagged in a parental hold until, suddenly, miraculously, on a weekend morning in early September, I was set free.

It took me weeks to loosen up, but day after day I discovered a lightness of being that I’d never experienced during my first 18 years of life.       

And then, my first college party.

I attended an all-girls college that first year; my parents had insisted, thinking I’d be safer. Little did they know!orange juice and vodka, screwdriver

For the first official college co-ed “social,” one of my more savvy roommates booked a half dozen rooms at a local motel. A group of us invited high school (now college) boyfriends near and far, as well as new boyfriends from a neighboring university. We joined the college dance from 9 to 11, then penetrated the hotel rooms like ants at a picnic table. Several boys brought the ingredients for something called a Screwdriver (at first I wondered why we needed a tool box).

We danced to loud fast music and loud slow music and drank away our childhood, entering what we thought was a wild new adulthood with no bounds.

I was the first to go. Amazed that the room spun like a top, I sat on the bed to slow down the globe. Next thing I knew, I had decorated the motel rug with the contents of my stomach, which were mainly pretzels, orange juice, and vodka. I woke up, totally dressed, in the shower, warm water pouring over me like over a hothouse flower in a tropical jungle.

Hours later I woke up again to the scene of half a dozen passed-out girls and boys on the two double beds and the floor, snoring and gagging. No one resembled anything wild or free.

For the next 20 years I never got wild enough to drink another glass of orange juice, much less vodka.

My wild days began enthusiastically and ended swiftly.

Freedom, it seemed, was not another word for wild.

And how we dread our children learning that same lesson.

Not until we are losst do we begin to find ourselves, Henry David Thoreau









Thanks to Google Images.


69 thoughts on “WILD Days

  1. “I attended an all-girls college that first year; my parents had insisted, thinking I’d be safer. Little did they know!” LOL! Isn’t that the truth, Pam. 🙂 I had a similar experience, but mine was gin and tonic. To this day, the smell of a lime makes me queasy and as for gin…blech!

  2. I was never wild in college – I think because the college had so many rules and regulations in loco parentis and I was a bit reserved. Biggest problem was getting along with my roommate who WAS wild. Wildness came out in grad school and my poor husband, during the first couple of years of marriage!

    • Now that’s a switch – that the wildness didn’t occur until you were married. You must have felt more secure then and able to ‘let go’ and be wild. Must be some fun stories in there!!

  3. I never had too many reins on me as a teenager, so when I left at age 18, I didn’t feel the need to sow too many oats. Plus, I was working all the time. My oldest son is in his first year of college, but he’s such an introvert and homebody that he comes home every weekend (he’s less than an hour away). So no weekend partying (phew!). My youngest, however, well, I suspect he’s going to be like you were and be happy as a clam to discover his new freedom in two years. Oh boy, I’m already trembling…

  4. Wonderful anecdote! A good short memoir piece. We have no children, but when my brother (born when I was almost 20) went away to college, I cried for a few days each time I realized that he was gone, grown up, on his way. I can only imagine how you parents must feel. First year college montage: creative writing class I wasn’t supposed to be in until I was a junior but talked my way into it by pleading with the poet/professor, watching Star Trek, trying to navigate the large campus. No parties that I remember. Wondering why? Maybe I wasn’t invited to any of them!!!

    • Fabulous college montage with creative writing and Star Trek. You didn’t need parties – sounds like you made up your own fun. (And truly, a much better way to enjoy college…)

    • I know, isn’t it the truth? I’m already trying to ‘teach’ my 7 year old granddaughter about ‘being her own person,’ hoping she’ll not need the lessons I went through at 18…

  5. The first time I got drunk was on advocaat – I’d tasted ‘snowballs’ which had advocaat in them but were hardly alcoholic, so it was something of a surprise to find the room spinning the way it did 🙂

  6. OK, I am giggling (silently) about the orange juice & vodka saga. I have a tale to tell about that, as well. (But not if any relatives are listening on your blog.) At age 15 I got terribly drunk on orange juice and vodka–there are more details but I can’t bring myself to type them here–please email if you’d like additional scoop–and got terribly drunk at some 9th grade dance. Wow! I don’t think I’ve ‘enjoyed’ that particular drink much since then.

  7. There’s a time and place for everything . . . and it’s called college!

    I started drinking long before I left for college.
    It made the transition easier. 😉

    • Your statement leads to an interesting discourse. I believe the French can drink wine quite young, and supposedly there are fewer incidences of drunken college behavior in that country. On the other hand, others claim that social drinking in college has more to do with ‘letting go’ and ‘letting it all hang out.’. In most cases (hopefully) college kids discover that over-drinking isn’t fun, and that they can hang out happier when sober.

  8. I agree, getting free has it downsides. My parents held us on a very light rein, but I still never thought of drinking too much until University at the party after our prelim exams. Like you, I only needed the one experience of being sick and after that stuck to moderation. I am amazed that so many people are happy to repeat this gross reaction to drink over and over.

  9. Drinking will usually trigger a migraine so I never got into drinking parties. (I’m also an introvert…) But it’s interesting watching the antics of others with lowered inhibitions, including my own kids who feel free to get tipsy in front of me.

    • I do. Luck with some good sense. I mean, who would want to repeat that stupidity again? I think more than anything the incident taught me the danger of being naïve, and to learn and listen quickly. I suppose this is the important lesson to teach our kids…

  10. I suppose you’re fortunate that nothing more serious happened to you. I thought you were going somewhere else with this story when you mentioned the motel rooms. I was never very wild at college, and though I know my daughters drank in college (more than I knew about at the time), I know they were responsible–no driving while drunk, etc.

    • Despite my desire to suddenly experience ‘freedom,’ I was smart enough to stay in the company of people I trusted. Truly, this was the end of ‘wildness’ for me though. Scared me into instant sensibility. 🙂

  11. Nothing worse than go get sick and vomit your “guts” out and then have an aversion to the smell that made you intoxicated. But I’m sure that you had fun. Those were the carefree days.

    I can truthfully say that I never had those experiences. Went to a Catholic school of nursing and we were monitored and had limited freedom. After school it was work and more work. I never got into the wild days. Alcohol gave me bad head aches and I could not tolerate more than 1/2 bottle of beer. so there were no wild parties. I dated a guy that was not the party type and that was a good thing.

    • I think some wild days are healthy for us-if it doesn’t include alcohol or drugs! I will never forget that sense of freedom being on my own when I left my parents. Sounds like you worked too hard!

      • I was young then, Pam and didn’t realize the extent of work during and after nursing school.

        I agee that a bit of wildness is a good thing. “Sow your oats when you are young.” I’ve read that one is less likely to want to get reckless when older if oats are sowed while young. 🙂

  12. It took me a little longer than you to tame my party side – the night I ended up drinking tequila and tonic because the gin ran out, or I couldn’t tell the difference between the two bottles maybe, something like that…did it for me! I have since found there are more powerful, satisfying ways to be truly wild…the world needs more wild! A wise and moving post – thanks as ever dear Pam. Love and hugs, Harula xxx

    • This is what I love about sharing our stories/our poems/our lives in the blogging world. NO way would I guess that you started off wild the ‘wrong way,’ and like me, discovered much more fun, healthy ways to be truly wild. In my writing classes I use some of the ideas in Natalie Goldberg’s book Wild Mind. Writing can certainly help us be wild beyond our imaginations.

    • I think what you heard may be right; all-girls schools can be pretty crazy. I found it unnatural, living in a university setting that was inhabited with only one sex (except for professors and staff). Girls went wild searching for the other part of the equation. ;-0 I transferred to a co-ed school the next year…

  13. I got drunk several times as a young girl. One time my dad picked me up from boarding school and we had spiked the punch the night before and finished in our rooms. I was feeling pretty bad and my sweet dad tried to sober me up before I had to attend a wedding. I barely made it .

    • Ahh, what we put our dads through back then. I kept my dad clueless about my ‘wild times.’ It wasn’t until I was grown up with my own kids that he related to me how wild he was in his late teens and early 20s. I still never shared with him what I did at the same age. 🙂

      • My dad was so sweet, you know he never got mad at me , my mom took care of that. He died in 1992. His life was full of hardship , yet he was always positive , he smiled when he was happy and cried when he was sad. He loved me with all his heart.

  14. I never have developed a taste for beer, the typical drink at college parties. I remember a party when we were all trying to dance the flamingo like a beautiful girl who’d taken lessons. I was determined to drink a whole beer at that party, sip by sip. It was almost gone. One more dance and I’d finish it off. When I came back, though, someone had thrown his cigarette in it. To this day, I’ve never finished a beer. I’ve become a little tipsy on cocktails and wine, though–drinks that were harder to come by in college.

    • What a story! The ‘flamingo,’ huh? I’m getting a really fun visualization of THAT party! Funny how one little incident (like a cigarette in a beer, or a bad orange juice combo) can turn us off a drink for the rest of our lives!

        • 🙂 Yes, better visual with ‘the flamingo’ thought. I could see dancers whirling around the fake pink flamingos on some lawns. 🙂
          I should have known what you were saying, but boy, the flamenco isn’t seen that often any more is it?

  15. In my 20s, I thought I was free and wild, but when I hear what some people do on spring break or at college parties, I realized I was not that free and wild after all! The few times I’ve been drunk I got terrible bed spins and headaches that lasted the entire day following. Ain’t worth it. I drink socially, but slowly, so over a span of an evening I have 2, maybe 3 if I’m not driving. But I’m usually driving, so that helps keep me in line!!

  16. Oh no! I laughed after reading the second paragraph – I knew exactly where you were going. For me, it was tequila sunrises under almost identical circumstances. I couldn’t stand the smell of tequila for another 40 years. That freedom was amazing but risky. My daughter was much smarter than I was (I think!). 😀

  17. Hey, what a way to loosen up!!! 😀 Glad to hear it was a learning curve, but also you came through all that safely. My older brother had some similar experiences when he was in his late teens, like you he learned passing out with cocktails of drink wasn’t really all that fun after all.

    At that age I was unfortunately suffering a severe illness, my whole young life got put on hold. But I suspect I was saved from some crazy times because of it. I kind of matured in a unique way, and learned entirely different things. I wonder what mad things I might have got up to if I’d had the strength…I’m sure I would have!

    I love your quote, yes, I’ve been there, and that is, one way or another absolutely true. 🙂

    • I think you matured in a more difficult way (in some ways) but probably in a way that made a huge difference for the rest of your life. All I learned was that I’m not a drinker!! Well, actually, I also learned that I prefer staying at home reading a good book instead of ‘partying.’ So great having you stop by here at roughwighting.

  18. Excellent post about Life, its paths and its roundabouts… I really liked the ending lines…
    Life is worth living, and there are always many lessons to learn each day…
    Sending love and best wishes. Aquileana 🔆

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