I posted about this on Facebook recently, the significance of the number 44 at my alma mater, Syracuse. Today, I am 44 years old and, since this year has been full of significant changes, I thought I’d explore why my college days (and more) have little importance to me now.
Many player have worn the number 44, but the most well known are three African-American running backs – Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, and Floyd Little. It is significant to the school for many reasons, and the number 44 adorns stores, sports paraphernalia and stadiums. When I attended Syracuse from 1992 to 1996, I loved going to football, basketball and lacrosse games, and immersed myself in the history of the school and the culture of a diverse University.
I lived in South Bend, Indiana from 3 to 13 years old. Notre Dame was an important part of my life, and how I saw the “college” experience. I spent many days in the stadium, looking at Touchdown Jesus, drinking in the lore and emotion of ND football. I walked the campus many times, and marveled at how large and beautiful it was. I wanted to attend ND, but they did not have a graphic design program in undergrad at the time, by my recollection. And so, I looked elsewhere, at big Universities that would have beautiful campuses, sports teams and yet a fantastic art program.
And so I entered Syracuse as a Communications Design major – widely reputed as the second-hardest major at the school behind architecture. And the it lived up to the reputation. I spent late nights in the studio and computer lab (and often in the common areas with friends), and got season tickets to SU games. And though I had some fantasies of life on campus that I never fully realized, mostly due to the amount of free time I seemed to NOT have, I believe I had the college experience I dreamed of as a child.
At least, I think I did. Time does funny things to you as you get older, especially in the digital age. I remember my grandparents, who could not remember where they put their glasses any given morning, recalling with perfect detail a moment from their childhood. It was uncanny how the story would be picture-perfect at every telling. And yet, I find that for myself, memories get locked away sometimes, only to emerge (sometimes) with a prompt from an old friend.
I believe this is due mainly to the amount of knowledge and information available today, all trying to find purchase in a brain that used to have input a fraction of the density. My generation, Generation X, grew up as the technology today did. We know what it was like seeing the dawn of the internet as we were in college. We saw the rise of computing power in our first jobs mid-twenties. And we saw the advent of the smartphone during a time in our careers, our mid-thirties, where we were rising up the ranks. So we have memory of a time before information, where you had to remember three phone numbers, to an overabundance, where we have hundreds of passwords.
For me, the demarcation line is 9/11. September of 2001 does strange things to my space-time continuum. I often mistake events that occurred before for after and vice-versa. And that date also corresponded with things like the iPod, devices that at the time were revolutionary, but highly resemble the things we take for granted today – thousands of things (songs, articles, whatever) at your literal fingertips.
And so, I think back to college. I can remember a lot of fond details. But there are others, I’m sure, that are locked behind a paywall in my brain, waiting for a friend like Al or Becky to jog them loose. It bothers me, as I love knowledge, and I love information, and want to cram as much into my brain as possible. But I suppose my mind just does a little compress-and-archive at times, which I can’t help. Like Sherlock Holmes, I guess the pertinent information remains, the rest can fall by the wayside.
And so now I’m 44. A number of great significance to my alma mater. And like many things that were once important to me that have been forgotten or cast aside, I am trying to regain some of what I once was, rediscover “Peter” again. And I can add that to the list – my days at Syracuse, and the memories archived in my mind.
Anyone out there have a Zip Drive that can help a brother out?
Image from syr.edu