I walked into the church and breathed in the scent of flowers and burning incense: a bit overwhelming, but at the same time, comforting in its familiarity. This was how every Sunday – especially Easter Sunday – was supposed to smell.
I chose a pew towards the back and slightly off to the right of the center. No one was really there yet but I didn’t want to be in the front.
I wanted to be somewhere where I could see everyone. I wanted to see the grandmothers in their pastel suit jackets and stockings. I wanted to see the haggard looking parents, toting in their toddlers, bags of Cheerios clutched in hand, hopelessly straightening headbands or bowties as their kids stumbled down the aisle. I even wanted to see the families that had passed the “waking up too early” phase, and now fought the constant battle with their less than enthusiastic teenagers of waking up too late.
I wanted to see all of this and more.
In college, we live in a world that consists almost entirely of people between the ages of 18 and 22. Sure, we see our professors for a few hours each weekday and we may call our parents up once a day and get some real-adult exposure. But for the most part, the biggest players in our life while at UConn or any other school all fall into this tiny and arbitrary age range.
We live with, eat with, study with, talk with, play games with, cry with and dance with people our own age – and only people our own age.
As the weeks of the semester wear on, it can be easy to forget that there’s a world out there where a gray hair is not a terrifying anomaly, where going to bed at 8 p.m. isn’t ridiculously early, where you go home to just a few other people who are related to you every night, where the biggest concerns aren’t exam-related anxiety attacks and what the dining hall will be serving for breakfast. And there’s a world out there where school is a place you go from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and not your entire life.
As I kneeled to pray before mass began, I had one thought continually running through my mind: remind me that there is a real world out there. A world with grandmas and babies and parents and sassy children. A world that consists of more than studying and club meetings. A world beyond the 18 to 22 year-old age range.
That has been a constant wish of mine throughout my nearly three years of college and is the motivator behind my 8:15 a.m. mass attendance.
“Why don’t you come to the student mass at 7 p.m.?” I have been asked many times.
My original answer was because I had organic chemistry review from 7 to 9 p.m. on Sunday nights (sad but true). But now as a junior, who could very easily fit a 7 p.m. Sunday mass into my schedule, I haven’t changed the time I go.
I go to see the babies cry and the grandmas smile. I go to see the little boy spill his apple juice all over his sister’s coloring book and on his mother’s shoes. I go to see a life outside of 18 to 22 year-olds stressing and studying, because that world only exists in college.
Julia Werth is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.