Well, friends, I think my liver is finally about dried out. Fun fact: even though my 20-year-old self would scoff at how little alcohol I actually consumed this weekend, it still was enough to knock my 36-year-old self on her back. Lightweight.
When we last spoke, I was jetting off to begin my Back to College weekend. I first flew to my BFF Missy’s house in Boston on Thursday night. I didn’t land until late and since she’s been dealing with a poor teething baby, we both went to bed (separately; geez, it wasn’t that kind of a weekend) almost right away.
The next morning, I had to go outside and take some pictures of snow for E. She was sooooo jealous that I was going to be in snow. She’s crazy. Within 45 seconds of being in snow again, I was reminded of how happy I am to not live amongst it anymore.
We enjoyed a nice leisurely morning, hanging with her two kiddos, including my best 4-year-old friend A. I can’t believe I didn’t get any pictures with her! But of course, I did get a picture of the ridiculous pancakes I got for breakfast at their local diner.
On the left is a coffee cake pancake; on the right is a peanut butter cup pancake. Oh my awesome. Just wow. Sadly, they were so heavy that I couldn’t even finish half of each. I tried to keep going because they were sooooo good, but I just couldn’t. Oh man, though.
And for the record, they used natural peanut butter so it was basically health food.
After I rolled myself out of the diner, we hung out at Missy’s for a bit while the kids got settled with her husband and mom, then hit the road for our road trip!
It’s about a 5 hour drive from Boston to Syracuse, and the time flew by as we got properly caught up and jammed out to the classic hip hop radio station on Pandora.
And before we knew it, we were approaching our four-year home away from home.
We knew we were getting close when the sun suddenly disappeared from the sky and the snow started falling. True story. The drive up was beautiful until we started seeing the effects of that famous lake-effect snow. Ahhh, Syracuse. Some things never change.
Before heading to the hotel, we decided since it was getting late in the day, we’d take a quick spin around campus. It was a sight for sore eyes. Hello, Hall of Languages.
And of course, we couldn’t resist visiting our old house — 211 Clarendon Street.
Thank GOD those walls can’t talk. Missy and I lived in this house for two years, with a cast of characters that included roughly 14 other roommates at some point or another (true story). I’m pretty sure if cameras had been installed it would have been MTV’s highest rated show ever.
And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.
We spent about 30 minutes driving around doing the whole, “Oh, that’s still the same” and “Oh, that is SO different” thing. It was a lot of fun.
I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve been back. A big group of us went back to campus the year after we graduated to surprise our two friends that were still there, and DadJovi and I went to a game at the Dome in 2004 but that was over Christmas break. So that’s it. Since I graduated in 1999, I’ve been back exactly twice. Disgraceful.
After our trip down memory lane, we headed to nearby Liverpool to check into our hotel for the weekend, the Holiday Inn.
Originally, we were supposed to stay at the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel in Syracuse. I was even going to host a giveaway for one of you to win a weekend there with a very generous expiration policy. However, due to a much larger than anticipated event at their hotel, they unfortunately had to cancel our stay there about two weeks out from the trip.
But Kevin, the reservations manager, was a complete class act about it. He went out of his way to help us and even got us booked into the Holiday Inn and arranged to have our entire stay comped for the whole weekend (at the DoubleTree, we were planning on paying a reduced rate for our rooms in exchange for the giveaway)! It was above and beyond anything I expected, and we really appreciated his help in turning a slightly annoying situation into something spectacular.
So, now having stayed at the Holiday Inn Liverpool and dealt with the staff at the DoubleTree Syracuse, I can highly recommend both places. Both staffs were very, very helpful and so kind in making sure we had the best weekend possible. When we checked into our really nice room at the Holiday Inn, they even had gifts waiting for us:
Yup, those are the world-famous DoubleTree cookies. Mmmm, cookies. Since I didn’t have much time to shop for E., those made a great present for E. and DadJovi when I got home!
So, thank you Kevin and Holiday Inn staff for hosting us and taking such good care of us. The Holiday Inn worked out great.
The hotel was a less than 10 minute drive to campus and it was near our new favorite restaurant — the Gardenview Diner. When we had our first of two meals there of the weekend (true story) on Saturday morning, all the servers were decked out in Syracuse t-shirts. So great.
Our server even gave us the great tip that we could pick up those special Syracuse v Georgetown tees at the nearby pharmacy for about half the price we would have paid on campus. Score!
And she adorably kept calling us “hon” the way everyone in Central New York does, so that made us love her more.
But I’m getting ahead of myself in the story.
On Friday night, we relaxed for a little bit in the hotel and debated forever where we should eat dinner. We knew we SHOULD go eat at Dinosaur BBQ, the greatest BBQ place on the planet. It would have been easy too — all our guy friends had ordered a massive to-go order to their hotel on campus. But for some reason, neither of us was feeling Dino that night. We could only thing of one place — our beloved Wegman’s. So, yes, the first time in forever that these two moms had a night to go out to dinner with kids tagging along, we chose to go eat at a grocery store. We’re so awesome.
And it was worth it.
My dinner included Italian herb and cheese baked cauliflower, roasted brussel sprouts, egg salad and the dish Missy and I lived on in college — tomato, mozzarella pasta salad. One bite and it immediately took me back 14 years in time. It’s amazing how tastes and smells can do that, huh?
The dinner was only marred by the fact that Missy was mad Wegman’s retweeted my Instagram pic of our dinner and not hers. So, Wegman’s, if you’re reading this, show one of your biggest fans @melissamangs some love for God’s sake!
The best part of our dinner was that there was plenty of room left in my belly for boozing!
We immediately headed to campus and somehow found a great parking spot right off Marshall Street. And then we walked down M Street, in amazement over the changes. 44s, the bar where we spent probably 80 percent of our college nights, is now a Verizon store??? And there are new additions like Pita Pit, Jimmy John’s and Chipotle. You kids and your fancy options. If you were real college students you would learn to live on Acropolis, Cosmos, Varsity and Panda West (all still standing) and like it, dammit.
We headed straight for the homeship though — Faegan’s bar.
I know this is fuzzy math, but we also spent about 75 percent of our college time at this bar too. Most nights we hit both. But you didn’t start going to Faegan’s until you were actually 21 because they were notoriously hard on fake IDs. Ahhh, colllege. But during your senior year, you basically lived at Faegan’s. And here’s why:
It’s amazing that the countdown chalkboard STILL gave me a knot in my stomach. My entire senior year, that sign just tortured me. I NEVER wanted to leave college and I cried way too many times in that bar over our pending graduation.
But this night was not a night for tears. It was a night for reconnecting with old friends and laughing our asses off. We were quickly joined by the rest of our crew for the weekend, including my two best guy friends Steve and Matt.
The three of us were friends in college but become lifetime soulmates after college when we all lived in DC together. These two (and Colie, who sadly wasn’t there with us this weekend. I’m not going to talk about it because I will cry over her recent move to Texas!) kept me alive and sane during our crazy post-college years. They were my Marshall and Ted, if you will. But I’ve promised Steve a full post devoted just to him (apparently he’s dissatisfied with his lack of MomJovi shoutouts) so I’ll save all my gushing for then.
We spent a few hours hanging at Faegan’s before heading home. After all, we had a big game day to rest up for!
OK, I’m going to shock you all here — I’m actually going to STOP this blog post and continue in a Part 2. I know, it’s unprecedented. But this girl says it takes too long to read my long posts so I figure if she feels that way, you may too.
Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion, which may or may not involve something I haven’t done in at least a decade. Now that’s a tease to come back!
Have you been back to your alma mater? What was the biggest and most surprising change you saw? I’m still reeling from the 44’s turning into a Verizon store discovery.
Disclosure: In case you didn’t read my full post, we stayed for free at the Holiday Inn. As the saying goes, all opinions are solely mine and I was not asked to blog about our stay in exchange for the rooms. They were just being good people.