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Maintaining Old Ties

This past weekend I went to California for a college friend’s reunion. After graduating, my four college roommates and I decided that we would get together every year. While this is no small feat, it is extremely high on my priority list. Just as a great romantic relationship requires equal effort, this idea would require equal priority and value amongst all members.

The Plan: Back in November, I started a group message to see when the best time would be to meet up. Timing can always be difficult, whether as a student or out in the workforce, but some compromises can go a long way. When deciding on the location, let’s just say that graduates, two years out of college, were not in the financial situation to jet off to Hawaii. We decided we would settle with a weekend in the Sierra Nevada’s at a family member’s cabin.

The Commitment: The two students had to commit to the idea and arrange flights so that we landed in San Francisco at the same time and decided one vehicle would suffice. The next step was to figure out what I would miss in school. I personally have always had a difficult time skipping class, because I often felt that it took about twice as long to catch up. I knew, however, that the value of seeing old friends would be worth the hectic week that lurked upon my return. The final and most important step to having a reunion was the act of getting on the plane or in the car to travel to the meeting spot. This was where one of my friends struggled this year. I texted him at DIA and asked if his flight was on time. His response was, “What?” I reminded him, “Your flight to CA?” Unfortunately, I was a bit too late, as he replied, “I’m at school. I thought the reunion was next weekend!” Needless to say, we were all devastated that this year would be 4 of the 5, but I’m sure this would not be the last time that all five would be able to attend.

The Value: In the few weeks leading up to our trip, I began to struggle focusing on my schoolwork. This was partly because I was getting excited to see friends. One had been in Santiago, Chile for 8 months, and I would be seeing him the day after his return, but also because there was a lot going on in my life. College friends have a special insight to your life. They are the ones that meet you as that semi-awkward and mostly lost 18-year-old. They get to share in your growth as your frontal lobe continues to develop and you become the person that is closer to your 50-year-old self than you might want to imagine. I believe that there is way more to college than a degree. The person that walks away from that institution can be exponentially different than the one that walked into it. Having people in my life that know and have shared in my self-growth can always provide a level of comfort no matter how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other. On a macro level, dental school can be a hedge maze, and as the days go on, the walls grow taller and taller. What is crucial for my pursuit to navigate (and sometimes crawl) my way through the maze is to every now and then get a birds-eye view of what I’m up against. Catching up with old friends and giving my elevator speech as to what dental school is like puts everything back into perspective. When I’m surrounded by other problems independent of how difficult a test was I feel like I am an executive in Westworld watching from above, and I can finally see the small confines of my own hedge maze.

Whether it’s commiserating about dating apps, swapping exciting stories about South America, playing board games while having a beer or two, or simply being able to shred sledding hills, there is some part of my wellbeing that can only be filled with time spent with old friends. They remind me who I really am and why I’m even where I am today. For myself, at no cost, financial, time or otherwise, is dental school and the busyness of a day or month worth the friendship of those that truly understand me.

Gabe Casias

Gabriel Casias is a first-year dental student at the University of Colorado. He grew up in Fountain, CO and received a BS of Chemistry from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, CA. Gabe considers himself to be a dabbler. A master of certain traits brings on a certain level of danger that he is not willing to risk his dental career on, so a jack of many traits will suffice. (Think trad climbing.)

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