Three Years, Three Delicacies

by Jenn (eating bender) on August 10, 2012

There’s something about being back in my college town – even if it’s only 40 minutes from where I currently live – that wipes away the three years that separate me from graduation. It feels impossible that it has been nearly 38 months since I sat inside Pine Yard, soaked through on my graduation night, surrounded by my and Bobby’s family as we passed around the bowl of white rice and reflected on the end of our time at Northwestern.

But time has passed, and a lot of things have changed since then. I am no longer the aspiring journalist-turned-PR-professional with dreams of rising up the ranks at an agency. I left that world to start two businesses and embrace a freelance writing career that brings with it a whole host of new (and exciting) responsibilities. Being a professional is a lot different than being an undergrad. No matter how many times I thought to myself that it would all be so much easier when I no longer had homework, midterms and final exams, in many ways the real challenges are just beginning.

The letter grades, GPAs and majors disappeared, but they were replaced by annual reviews, promotions and career shifts. There is also the financial responsibility and long-term planning that come with being fully independent. My definition of “future” was once limited to academic years and summer internships. Now, that “future” is extended to include buying a house, providing for a family and saving for retirement. None of these things are happening tomorrow, but preparing for them today is what will ensure that we are ready when the time does come.

It’s a lot to think about! Still, my glass is half full. Actually, it’s filled to the brim.

As overwhelming and daunting as the real world can sometimes be, there is a lot to be excited about. Making big decisions for myself is empowering. Planning for our future goals and watching them become a reality is thrilling. And having the ability to meet one of my best friends for dinner on a random Wednesday night to reminisce about the past, analyze the present and dream about the future is a treat – especially when good food is involved.

Lauren and I talked about our excitement over Sam and Alex’s engagement and our upcoming day trip to Lake Geneva, among other things. All between spoonfuls of egg drop soup.

My dinner choice was easy: the Spicy Three Delicacies has been a longtime favorite of mine. Beef, chicken, shrimp and vegetables – what’s not to love? I wrapped up half as a surprise for Bobby later that evening. I think I earned points on that one.

Once we were finished with our meals, we cracked open our fortune statement cookies.

Wise words, but I miss the days where these cookies predicted my success or doom. At least they still provide lottery numbers at the bottom. If you happen to use those and win, you’re welcome.

It was a cool summer night (hurray!), so we walked around the block a couple times before heading our separate ways. As I drove back into the city on Lake Shore Drive, I thought about how cool it has been to live downtown and experience the hustle and bustle of Chicago…how different it is than college life in Evanston…and how I’m glad that even though life can take us in many different directions, there are some things – such as good friends and good memories – that never change.

Speaking of time flying by, what are your end of summer plans?

I can’t help talking about it – blame it on the Packers preseason game last night. As 1/3 of August is officially over, I’m most looking forward to the fact that I am seeing all three of my nieces over the next month. I’d love to hear what your plans are between now and Labor Day.


1 Lauren August 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm

So glad you are enjoying the time you have to be back with your friends and family. And you’re words on choosing the right path in your life are inspiring…more than you know! :) Happy weekend girl!

2 Jenn (eating bender) August 13, 2012 at 10:26 am

Thank you, Lauren!! I hope you had an amazing weekend, too. :)

3 Lilly August 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm

That food looks fantastic! I can’t believe summer is almost over either. I’m getting to leave Texas (where it is way too hot) to go to California to visit my family. I can’t wait for the cooler temps and the night ocean breeze!
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4 Jenn (eating bender) August 13, 2012 at 11:05 am

I can’t believe it, either! California will be wonderful. I’m actually headed there to visit family this week myself. Have an amazing trip!

5 emily (a nutritionist eats) August 10, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Lovely post Jenn.

6 Jenn (eating bender) August 13, 2012 at 11:10 am

Thank you, Emily!

7 BroccoliHut August 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm

I know exactly what you mean–I live about 30 minutes from my alma mater, but when I do go back for the occasional visit, I’m immediately transported to my undergraduate days. Sigh.
As for my end of summer plans…I’m just waiting for my sister to give birth! The baby is due August 23rd, so hopefully I can make it home for a quick visit once he arrives!
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8 Jenn (eating bender) August 13, 2012 at 11:13 am

I have a friend who works at Duke now and loves it! How exciting that your sister is due at the end of the month. Nieces and nephews are the BEST!

9 Erica August 11, 2012 at 6:04 am

So true- all of it! Sounds like you have exciting plans coming up. That egg drop soup looks yummy. I have a bachlorette weekend coming up next weekend (best friend from high school). Other than that? Just enjoying!

10 Jenn (eating bender) August 13, 2012 at 11:13 am

It promises to be busy, that’s for sure! Have a great time at your bachelorette weekend – that sounds like fun!

11 Irina @ Chocolatea Time August 11, 2012 at 2:33 pm

What a beautifully written post. It’s been so tough for me to enter “the real world” after graduating 1.5 years ago. I miss college all the time and I feel as if I’m stuck between my college past and my adult future. It’s as if I can’t fully move on! I’ve avoided returning to the university because of this – the emotional flood I would experience would be overwhelming!

Anyway, congrats to you and all the exciting things happening in your life. It only gets better so sit back and enjoy every moment!
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12 Jenn (eating bender) August 13, 2012 at 11:15 am

I know what you mean! I was exactly where you were 1.5 years out. Now that it has been three years I will say that I feel a bit more like I am in the “adult” world, but being on campus makes all the memories flood right back. I wonder if the feeling will ever go away! Thanks so much for the kind words, Irina.

13 julie August 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm

CONGRATS TO BOBBY!!!! I just caught myself up and yay congrats to him for passing!! that’s so exciting for you both :) you must be one proud wifey! it’s so crazy to think about how goals & planning change over the years! i don’t think they’ll ever stop changing! which makes it WAY more exciting no?

14 Jenn (eating bender) August 13, 2012 at 11:22 am

Yay! Thank you, Julie – I am definitely a proud wifey! It really is true what you said about goals and planning. Never knowing where you will end up next certainly makes life interesting. :)

15 Melissa @Tryingtoheal August 13, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Wait until you get to 5 years out of college! I’m starting to feel old at only almost 27! Haha! What a great way to celebrate all that you have done in those three years, I’ve been enjoying watching you accomplish your dreams for sure! Ok, off to go check on over 3 weeks of posts from you, oh being in the jungle with cruddy internet!
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16 Jenn (eating bender) August 15, 2012 at 9:30 am

It’s been fun watching YOU accomplish your dreams, too! Glad we got to catch up a bit more yesterday! :)

17 Vegan August 22, 2012 at 7:09 am

Great story, the photos look amazing as well. The Spicy Three Delicacies look so appetizing. Do you have a recipe for this?

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