Tuesday, October 22, 2013


One thing that we were very excited about upon returning to Florida was the possibility of spending some occasional time in Gainesville, where we both went to the college at the University of Florida. The last time we visited Gainesville was in 2008, on our way to Florida from D.C. just weeks before making the big move to NYC. We haven't been to a game at the Swamp since 2006 (we did, however, make it to the National Championship Game in Miami in 2009!). We knew we wouldn't be able to catch a game this year, but we were excited to get back to our old stomping grounds to see how things have changed, take a walk down memory lane and introduce Ellie to her future college town.

So, on Saturday we made the hour and fifteen minute drive to Gainesville, and as soon as we got into town I got so excited. We drove right past all the nightclubs on University Avenue where my college self formerly danced the night away, and soon ended up on campus. We found a parking spot right in front of the door to my old dorm room. I used to live in Murphree Hall, which at the time was a steal because although the rooms were big (two-room suites with a sink) and the location was top-notch (literally steps from the football stadium, right in the middle of campus), Murphree was the oldest dorm building on campus, and as such, it was not air-conditioned. So, sure, your make-up melted off your face before you could even finish applying it, but what a bargain! Now the rooms have been renovated and boast luxurious air-conditioning, as evidenced by the fact that not a single window was open and there was nary a box fan to be seen on this visit. Oh, kids these days. They have no idea how good they have it.

Heat aside, I loved my time in Murphree Hall and I made some incredible friends there, most notably my friend Kristina, who was a bridesmaid in my wedding and now we're raising kids about the same age. I'm lucky to have met her in Murphree Hall!

My first dorm room in Murphree Hall, circua 2000

The view of the stadium from my freshman dorm room

It was pretty surreal to sit on those steps in front of my old dorm with my daughter, that's for sure.

In front of Murphree with my Ellie

Eric showing Ellie the callbox he used to use to call up to my dorm to let me know he arrived (oh, pre-cell-phone era! I wonder if those boxes are ever used anymore.)

After our quick stop at my dorm, we went over to the football stadium, which was obviously the location of many great memories. I remember the football season ticket lottery, and dialing and redialing over and over again on both our house phone (because we had one of those, because it was the early 2000's) and our cell phones (early Nokias for the win!) to try to get through to secure our tickets. The years we didn't have tickets, we camped out on the stadium sidewalks to try to get leftovers each week. The Swamp is loud and beastly hot and was the scene of the crime for many a terrible sunburn. The students would stand through the entire game so by the time it was over, your feet ached, your voice was hoarse from yelling and your ears were ringing from the noise, and you were so hot, sweaty and crazy tired. Man, was it awesome.

At a game! I think this was probably in 2001?

The Gators were away this week, so the stadium was quiet and we were able to roam in peace.

"Hey guys, I'm going to try to catch a game."

Welcome to the Swamp!

Someday we'll bring her here to really watch a game.

I think she'll enjoy it!

In the Swamp with Ellie

Go Gators!

We also stopped for some pictures in front of the stadium, including with the Gator where I took my graduation photo:

Graduation, 2004

Hey there, old friend.

Gator gals

She's not scared.

Gator looked thirsty, apparently.

My favorite people

Class of 2034!

Gator family

Ellie has done her part as the child of two proud Gator parents and has already learned the Gator chomp, and she recognizes the Gators logo and gives an upbeat "Go Gators!" every time she sees it. Needless to say, she was pretty busy around campus, but she didn't seem to mind one bit.

"Hi, Gator!"

We also walked around the stadium to see the new Heisman Winner trophies, The Promise, and we wanted to see the Trophy Hall but it wasn't open. Ellie got her first look at Tim Tebow (albeit in statue form) and she was as awed as I am.

Statues of the Heisman winners

She's starstruck.

Danny Wuerffel

The Promise

From there we just continued on through notable sights on campus: the Reitz Union (where we entered through a back way, because the former main entrance is now a huge construction site!), the Hub, the "French Fries" (really a sculpture entitled "Alachua"), Turlington Plaza and "The Rock," Century Tower and the library.

What used to be the main entrance to the Reitz Union!

Ellie under the French Fries

The Rock

Reading the latest issue of "The Alligator" in Turlington Plaza (not my first time for that!)

Taking a break, or choosing a major?

More campus exploration

After all that wandering we were ready for some lunch, so we drove over to what used to be Calico Jack's, an oyster bar I worked at for my last year in Gainesville. However, as of May it no longer exists, and has been completely redone inside to be a much fancier establishment. I barely recognized it. We decided not to eat there and instead ended up back near campus at the Copper Monkey, where we watched the Gators losing yet again (get it together, Gators) while we ate. Then, we hit the road back to Jacksonville.

Riveted by the Gators on TV during lunch

We had a wonderful day in our old home town, and it was so fun to both wander around with Eric as we reminisced, and to watch our daughter explore it for the first time. I have said it before, but it means so much to me that Eric and I shared our college experience, because we both loved it dearly and it is great to have that awesome time in our lives in common. I hope that as she grows up Ellie sees that appreciation and fondness for our college years, and I hope she feels inspired to seek out that experience for herself, too. Even if she doesn't end up at Florida! Hey, I'm sure Harvard is lovely too. Can't fault her for that choice.

But regardless, at least for now, we are one happy Gator family!

Go Gators!

1 comment:

Lauren said...

How fun and I can't believe you lived without AC in your dorm, kids really do have it good these days ;-) Love all of Ellie's pics, that little Gator romper is adorable!!! Oh and we def used call boxes too I bet they rarely do now lol.