Minus the two years that I waited tables in an Irish pub, St. Patrick’s Day has always been my favorite day of the year. Having grown up in New York where the holiday is somewhat of an institution, I was disappointed to find that it was a mere blip on the radar when I moved to Georgia for college. There was a bright spot, though, when I discovered the St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Savannah, which was just a few hours away. There was always a catch, though. My first two years of school we were on the trimester system and St. Patrick’s Day fell swiftly during midterms. Especially my freshman year, midterms were not going to spoil my fun. Unfortunately, no one else seemed to share my slack-adaisical attitude towards skipping class for green beer; I only hope their GPAs exceeded my stellar 2.3 after their freshman year. The last two years, St. Patrick’s Day fell during finals, when we were on the semester system. However, because we had the longest semesters in the history of any college in America (UGA never seemed to excel at figuring out anything administrative), we lucked out my senior year. I was able to convince some friends to head to Savannah with me and we celebrated by the river.

My freshman year, I was without a car for the first time in my life since I got my driver’s license. You never realize until you don’t have a car how appealing everywhere sounds, but where you are. Athens seemed to be a short drive (well, ride, then) to just about everywhere. If someone was taking a roadtrip and there was an open invite, I was willing to go. Class would definitely take a backseat to traveling and seeing all there was to see.

We went to “The World’s Largest Cocktail Party” in Jacksonville. We went to Destin for a weekend at the beach – hell, I even tagged along to Talladega once. By far, the most memorable trip my freshman year was to Mardi Gras. The first thing that made it funny was that I actually called my parents and asked them if I could go. Granted, I was only 17 at the time but I did live like a thousand miles away from them. Somehow, I just felt like they should grant me permission. My friend, who was over 21, assured my mom that I would be well taken care of and that she didn’t need to worry about me. In typical college travel fashion, there were about 15 of us in one room with two beds. Also, it happened to be colder in New Orleans than it was in Georgia (and New York, which was even more insane.) Needless to say, I came back deathly ill right before midterms.

I was enrolled in this insane World History Before the Dawn of Time class (at least that’s what I thought it was about) that I rarely attended and probably didn’t pay attention to when I was in there. I think this was one of the rare moments in my collegiate career when an exam took me by surprise. We were handed a blank map of the world and were expected to draw in and label cities and rivers. I couldn’t even label actual present countries on a map now. I handed the blank exam back to the teacher with my drop request attached.

That should have been the first sign that my wanton travels were beginning to affect my grades. At 17, I wasn’t entirely sure why I was at school. When I got my final grades for the year (again, a remarkable 2.3 overall), my dad echoed the same sentiment.

My travels and escapades had to take a backseat to class over the next three years. I took fewer spur of the moment trips and made sure that my responsibilities at school wouldn’t be affected. And if traveling interfered with class, there was always a plan B.

I took an art appreciation class my sophomore year, which had a 5 p.m. Friday discussion group. Day one when I got my syllabus, I realized this wasn’t a viable option, since I spent most of my weekends in Charleston then. My master plan evolved — two words — teacher’s assistant. I quickly learned that a young-20’s TA could be swayed to give you an A for a discussion group you never attended. All it took was attending his mediocre art shows and swooning over his pieces.

By the time four years of college were said and done, I graduated with over a 3.0 AND got to finally celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah.

I took next Tuesday off to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and I’ve been trying to my hardest to convince everyone to do it with me — and yet again, it feels like freshman year. Except this time we’re not leaving at 2 a.m. and getting stuck in Dothan, Alabama, because we ran out of gas.

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