Wrote this for my Writers’ Group Christmas Party tonight–an unusual memory perhaps, but a memory nonetheless:
What was I thinking? My conscious has been niggling at me lately and it is about an adventure I had in fourth year at university. I have not always been the lovely person you are accustomed to, and every now and then a flash of that earlier feisty, perhaps a little selfish and superficial personality shows its rather unlovely self…. but not too often.
I remember the days when life was about me, me, me. And many of my friends were the same. It was not like we were horrible people—we were just single kids in our early twenties who had to find an outlet for our energy after studying our brains out for mid-terms.
We lived in residence but since we were seniors we got to live in the residence that had apartments—with four room-mates sharing accommodations. And it was boys and girls living down the hall from each other—which was a real change from separate residences, where the boys had to be “signed in” at the front desk before being allowed upstairs.
In real life, we were no longer boys and girls, we were men and women—but being at school we were not challenged by the responsibilities of mortgages, and keeping our homes respectable, and paying bills other than our tuition, books and housing. Many of us were still supported somewhat by parents, loans, and summer jobs. So maybe we can be forgiven for our dastardly deed.
It was Christmas and we were in the midst of finishing up final papers and studying for finals. The guys down the hall had a Christmas tree, and I and my roommates thought that having one would brighten up our spirits and apartment. So we asked them where they got their tree. They told us they had swiped it from a mall a couple of miles away. Someone had set up a tree kiosk and was selling the trees in the parking lot. They had all piled into an old 71 Chevy and secured a tree—but really what they had done was stalk the lot after midnight and stolen the tree when no one was there to see them.
There was a process to the whole adventure. They had driven to the lot, turned their lights off, run to the where trees were kept and taken a tree as opposed to choosing a tree with deliberation and thought. They then peeled out of the lot with four wheels barely on the pavement and raced home. Well, this sounded like quite an adventure to my roommates and me. The guys offered to take us to the lot and procure a tree for us—but we had to come along. So eight of us piled into the big brown Chevy and we nonchalantly made our way to the lot.
We entered the lot, turned off the car’s headlights, and three guys piled out of the car to get us our tree while the driver waited in anticipation of taking off like a wild man. They got the tree—stuffed it in the trunk and got back in the car. The car doors were barely closed when we were peeling out of the driveway, tossed around in the back seat of the car like rag dolls. And of course we were laughing and having a merry old time. There may have been some grain or grape beverages involved—I am not sure.
We got back to residence—jubilant in our success. We did not think about the fact that we were stealing. We did not think about the fact that the trees we had stolen were the basis for someone’s livelihood—we just basked in the glory of our escapade. We took the tree into our apartment and decorated with strings of popcorn and paper snowflakes. Such a lovely centrepiece to our Christmas celebrations—untainted by any feelings of regret.
Today I wonder what we were thinking. We probably knew it was wrong but were too high on the adventure to let that bother us. This Christmas memory is not one that I regret, as it makes me think about the fact that good people sometimes do questionable things. We learn from those things and it becomes part and parcel of who we are. Despite the fact that it still niggles at me—I still remember the rush of excitement, the camaraderie in the devilish deed, and the fun we had.
Have you ever done something that you regret or should regret?