Saturday, August 18, 2007

summer 2007 (st. john's and st. ben's)

one of my favorite things i did when in minnesota was to hook up with my homegirl, teresa. t and i have been bestest girls since we were both in college. it was the summer before our junior years. we had been kinda peripheral friends for a little while, but for some reason that summer we just clicked. we both stayed on campus that summer, she lived at st. john's university working with the paint department or something, and i lived at the college of st. benedict as a gardener. we were both trying to save money for our study abroad programs. it's amazing that we ended up being such good friends, because we really didn't see that much of each other for about a year -- just as we were starting to really hook up, i left for china for fall semester, and then i got back for about 3 weeks before she left for the spring semester in south africa. and yet, somehow, we ended up being best girls. and i'm grateful.

so, some background information: st. john's university and the college of st. benedict are two separate but very-connected liberal arts colleges in central minnesota. st. john's is "the boys school" and st. ben's is "the girls school." they're these great little catholic universities in the middle of nowhere, and every day i'm thankful that i spent 4 years there (even though i ended up going back to school for something else later). it breaks down like this: the boys live at st. john's, the girls live at st. bens, and both schools have separate administrations, like presidents and boards of trustees and junk. but the schools share one psychology department, one art department, one history department, etc. which means you can take classes on either campus, regardless of your gender. it works out fabulously because each school is tiny (maybe about 3,000 or 4,000 students on each campus when we were there), but because they have this partnership you have access to TWO libraries, TWO student centers, FOUR places to eat, etc. it's great! they're about 5 or 6 miles apart from each other, so there's this free bus that takes you between campuses several times a day. in fact, when i was a senior at csb, i drove the bus as a part of my work-study. it was really cool, because i'd make these mixed tapes of jimi hendrix, the doors, pink floyd, erykah badu, santana, utah phillips, ani difranco, etc. to wake everybody up and let them rock out a little bit on the bus between classes. i loved that job.

(a funny story about driving the bus: because st. john's is out in the woods, and st. ben's is "in town," all the boys would come into town to go out to the bars on friday and saturday nights. well, because the boys live at st. john's and the girls live at st. ben's, and the monks and nuns are pretty strict about no-opposite-sex visitors after hours, the boys would all have to go home as the bars were closing because they weren't allowed to crash at st. ben's for the night. and since they all took the bus into town to go the bars, they'd all have to take the bus home at the end of the night too. well, guess who the last woman is that they see that night? the bus driver. me. i got a lot of "heybusssssdriveryerrrrhotttt," and i would shout back to them, "just don't puke on my bus and we'll be cool." i remember them all drunkly serenading me to "you've lost that loving feeling" quite a bit. unless i was playing bob marley that night, in which case they'd all sing "no woman, no cry," regardless of which marley song was playing. it was really entertaining. ah, the good old days.)

okay, so teresa and i, and her fabulous boyfriend, nick (who went to st. john's) all spent one night up at sju to relive the glory days. we went out to eat at bo diddley's, a great pita/sandwich place, we went out to our old bar ("the midi," which i think got its nickname because it was midway between the other two bars in town), we had smoothies at our old coffee shop, we ate lunch at the refectory (aka "the reefer" by all the students), we swam in the lake, it was great...

(random picture of me, teresa, and jennifer, out for brunch at a funky place in edina, mn. jennifer and i lived on the same floor our freshman year. it's crazy to think that i've known her longer than i've even known adam! wow!)

i went to mass early one morning at the abbey church, which is always a treat. the monks encourage you to sit up on the altar with the rest of them, and they sing their morning prayers and we can sing along, and there are some readings, and we pray and meditate and it's just a lovely way to begin the day.

pictures from the beach: lake sagatagan ("lake sag") has only a few buildings on it, which is unusual for minnesota because whenever you find a lake, you also find a zillion lake houses on it because everyone in minneapolis has to have a cabin apparently. but on lake sag, there is the abbey church, the little stella maris chapel which is only accessible if you hike out maybe 2 miles, and the new guest house, where we stayed the night.

pictures from the midi: it's the townie bar. it's where i drank in college, because only the cool hippie kids like me and teresa would go to the midi, because that's where you could actually have a pretty decent conversation about the history of rock, the science of beer, the philosopy of jim morrison, etc. good stuff. the "other bars" were just places where the "other guys" would go to try to hook up with people of the "other sex." but not the midi. we'd drink cheap beer, shoot pool, and listen to the jukebox.

usually t and i wouldn't have enough money to buy our own drinks, so we'd go to the bar together and try to get drinks by doing stuff like this.

it always worked. :-)

so, that's the story of me and my homegirl. she and nick just moved to furano, hokkaido, japan, and i'm supercrazyproud of her. for as long as i've known her, she's wanted to live abroad, and i'm glad that she's finally doing it. she's teaching english there for a year, and we're not sure what nick is going to do yet, but he's a charming and resourceful man (such is the character of any man who graduated from st. john's), so i'm sure he'll fall into something without even having to try.

yay for girlfriends!

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