On his second Christmas break home from college, Duke University sophomore Michael Grand reports that he can no longer relate to any of his friends from high school.
“We used to spend every second together—we always studied together, went out to eat together and drank together basically every weekend. We were so close,” Grand said of his former best friends. “Now that we all live in different places and do different things, it feels like we barely know each other. I don’t know what happened.”
Grand reported that even though he doesn’t feel as close to his high school friends, it doesn’t stop the group from getting back together over breaks. “I usually kick off the break by grabbing a meal with my old best friends,” Grand said. “Each of us gives a recap of our whole semester. I usually end up skipping over most things. They wouldn’t get it because they don’t go to my school. And, you know, it’s a whole semester, so I forget some stuff.” These conversations are made more difficult because of the uneventful lives his friends from home are leading. “They usually just say things are going ‘fine.’ I mean, they all go to kind of mediocre schools, so they must not do a lot of cool stuff, I guess.” After this brief discussion, Grand said, conversation usually becomes awkward for a few minutes before turning to the menu items, sports and the girls from their high school that are now pregnant.
After reuniting with his formerly closest comrades, Grand usually bonds with the rest of his high school friend group at parties. “Now that we’re all in college, everybody drinks. Most of us joined frats, so it just seems like the thing to do.” The parties, Grant stated, typically follow a predictable trajectory. “Conversation is usually pretty slow, but it gets better as we get drunker. Then there’s this ex-couple who ‘broke up for college’ that always ends up making out on the kitchen table. And there’s this girl that always cries because she misses how things were when we were all closer. But the worst is the kid who didn’t go to college. Most of us don’t really know what to talk to him about. Like, how do you relate to someone like that? He’s super awkward to be around.” Grand, however, doesn’t usually have to deal with these annoyances. “I usually don’t make it to that point. The kids at the state schools drink so much more than I do, so I usually end up puking and passing out around 11:00 p.m. I don’t usually remember much, but I can always tell we got some quality bonding time in.” Grand states that this process repeats itself one to four times each break, and he couldn’t imagine it any other way. “Actually, I know we must have done other things, but I don’t remember what we even did in high school for fun other than drinking.”
Grand finds particular annoyance in the dichotomy between the “state school kids”—that is, his friends who ended up attending local universities—and the rest of the friend group, who largely left the state for better schools. “All the kids who stayed in-state went to the same college or nearby colleges, and they’ve got all these new inside jokes and mutual friends. I feel totally out of the group.” Grand feels as if this development is reflective of his friend’s sheer negligence towards him. “It’s almost like they kept on living their lives, but without me.”
Grand attributes tensions in the friend group to the friends’ disparate levels of success. “I think it’s just really hard for me to relate to people who, you know, couldn’t get into a school like mine. The level of conversation I’ve gotten used to from my fraternity brothers is just so much higher than with my friends from home.” Grand feels that his college-level dialogues, which largely consist of discussions of greek rankings, sharing of sexual conquests and wordless exchanges of loud bodily functions, could not be replicated with his friends attending schools ranked outside the top 20. “Like, what are we gonna talk about without it getting super awkward because my school is so much better than theirs? They’re just gonna get pissed at me and call me an academic elitist behind my back.”
Although he notes that his friend group has largely fallen apart, Grand reports that he’s not too sad about the loss of his friendships from home, as he has developed a tight-knit friend group here in college. “Oh, I love my college friends. I’m so excited to go back to Duke after break and hang out with them,” Grand said. “We always study together and go out to eat together. We drink together basically every weekend. We’re so close. I just know these friendships are for life.”
Lillie Reed is a Trinity senior. Her regular column is part of the weekly Socialites feature. This is her final column of the semester. Send Lillie a message on Twitter @LillieReed.