Live Your Film

Best Kept College Secret

by Franny Bendert

franny goes to college

Franny giddily cruises Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Historic buildings? Mature trees? Plenty of smarts? Check, check and check.

College days. Yep, hard to beat. Life’s safety bubble—a world of contained but new diversity, endless knowledge and freedom, no accountability for cleaning, diet, sleep, exercise, an unlimited future. I’ve been reminded of these gifts recently while touring college campuses with my two daughters.

Take a look around

There’s something about the beauty of a college campus that young students may not fully realize. When else in your life are you surrounded by a bounty of historic buildings, towering trees and a rich spectrum of people? Campus is a loaded environment of culture, comfort and nostalgia. Who can possibly afford to match these amenities after graduation? College life is sweet—and I didn’t even mention the parties.

I love running a familiar trail or neighborhood, but I realized that running through campuses and their towns provided pockets of new, culture-rich worlds. Breezing through the shady paths easily provided the most efficient and effective way to find the nooks and crannies of local color. A common thread of student spirit, demonstration, camaraderie, and peaceful quiet permeate the atmosphere.

Living my film

During my week-long tour with my two girls, not one campus disappointed. Ding, ding, ding … I found my perfect running environment. For some, “living their film” might consist of fantasies of going to a baseball game in each and every major league ballpark in the country. It quenches a thirst for what they want to hear, feel, smell and experience.

Similarly, I believe I’ve found my own micro-world of running heaven. If there’s a college campus in town, I’m going to explore it. Fortunately, I live near a small college town. I am ultimately drawn to campus for my runs and find inner peace in this atmosphere that hasn’t wavered with time. I also know where there’s a college campus, there’s bound to be at least one kick ass place for a cold beer—no ID needed, unless you insist!

The ultimate treat on our tour was my own alma mater. Always comfortable. Already familiar—my footprints deeply rooted throughout campus. I can’t deny I didn’t quite see everything I see now, 22 years later. My eyes and ears weren’t open in the same way. I’m a wise owl now, so no doubt my perspective has changed as compared to my girls—excited, prospective students. They’re imagining the potential life. I’ve got the goods on the real experience. But it belongs to me. They have to find theirs on their own terms.

As much as I loved college days, I’m not looking to go back.  But if I’m going to keep living my film, I welcome the opportunity to visit on occasion.


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