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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Column: Cheers to the snowy nights (and days) of college

I just had my eighth college snow day. This is my proudest accomplishment.

Nate Atkins

Feb. 12, 2014

The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.

I’m sitting in the warm confines of International Tap House, watching the snow rain down and life freeze for as long as I want it to.

It’s a Tuesday night and probably the only one I will spend at a bar this semester. That’s quite all right.

Today was a snow day. Tomorrow will also be a snow day. So I’m trapping myself here, in a place where the glasses clink quite loudly, the laughter seems to vibrate and the soft music playing above is a metaphor for everything happening within.

MU has canceled school eight times in my lifetime. I have been here for every one. This is my proudest accomplishment of college.

This isn’t about hating classwork. No, not tonight.

This is about all of the nights I’ve spent in places I’ll never forget. Ironically, so many of them include snow. The endless canvas of white is a relatively rare phenomenon, but it brings with it the power to alter everything we thought we knew.

You see our world changing: You see the Columns blurring in the distance, or the basketball in the yard that is now just a bulge rising from the white. For only a couple of days at a time, snow allows us to live life in 3-D.

Snow cancels life for a little while, at least the hectic parts. I’ll miss six classes over two days. Today I watched “SpongeBob SquarePants.” I trudged through the snow to the MU Student Recreation Complex, making sure to pass the snowy Columns on my way. And I arrived here, at a bar that wasn’t on this campus the last time it snowed.

In the bluster that is college, where schoolwork mounts on desks higher than the drifts of snow out the window, it is crucial that we take advantage of the breaks we receive to measure what is really happening here.

Believe me, something special is happening. Something great.

The problem is, we’re too often chasing the small. We’re packing our planners with group project meetings. We’re throwing slop on a page to print a minute before class. We’re trucking through the most literal and materialistic parts of an experience that is so much more important than the blocks on our schedule would lead us to believe.

And whether you love winter or hate it, you know that snow has given us the chance to step back and notice exactly that. Snow days aren’t fantastic because we don’t have to spend that hour in History of Religion; they are wonderful because they allow us to spend it elsewhere.

In my time here, snow days have allowed me to travel with my dorm floor to the MizzouRec to play pickup basketball. They’ve let me laugh at my roommate, Brian, who insisted on eating an ice cream cone in the blizzard. They’ve let me wrestle in the snow, dig my neighbor out of his driveway and watch “SpongeBob.” They’ve let me feel the excitement of being a kid again.

I’ll remember sitting in iTap tonight with my closest friends, ordering pints in the name of all that can never be taken away.

So cheers to all of you who found ways to spend the snow day that will stay in your mind longer than any lecture ever could.

Cheers to the students crowd surfing through the Columns.

Cheers to the ones in the yard behind the Columns hiking a football to the count, “One Whataburger!”

Cheers to the photos in the snow, the warm mochas at Starbucks and the snow angels that will soon fade away.

Cheers to tonight. May it stick with us forever.

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