A couple of weeks from today, I start my second semester of grad school. The first semester went great, in retrospect - I ended up getting A's in all four classes (woot), and I remember it all extremely fondly. If I didn't remember having complained about how stressed out I was, I'd think I enjoyed the entire thing start to finish. I guess, as usual, I enjoy it retroactively. This probably bodes well for my real-time enjoyment of future semesters.
This whole grad school thing is really amazing. One of the most awesome things about it is the other people in my cohort (and in other years, potentially). There is a large social group I feel very comfortable in, and I am really close to two people in particular. I'm not used to having so many acquaintances and friends to enjoy, close at hand like this.
I went to a New Year's Eve party at Drew's parents' house in Missouri this year, and stayed for a couple of days. Jared and I drove up together. (These are the two I am close to.) I actually saw midnight on New Year's Eve for the first time in a few years, and I stayed up very late drinking somewhat heavily (though not so much that I became ill, passed out, or had a hangover the next day). I actually felt socially likeable and accepted. I felt like a fun person whom other people would naturally like.
Counting Drew, there were five people from our program there, but the majority of the attendees were Drew's other friends, most from her undergraduate school (a SLAC, I think). I liked many of them very well indeed, and there was nobody I felt I didn't like.
It is a little strange to think about. I am about halfway between Drew's friends and her parents, age-wise. Is it creepy to be 36 and hanging out with a bunch of people who (on average) just finished college? They seemed to accept and like me. I didn't feel out of place. I don't feel, moment-to-moment, like I am not one of them, despite the ~13 years of work experience I had before starting grad school.
What all of this feels like is a great big giant miraculous do-over for me. I feel like this is the life I should have had, but couldn't grasp when I was these people's age, but here I am now, getting to do it. I'm pretty immensely grateful for it, too.