I am, by nature, a sentimental son of a gun.

I wear old shirts until they are threadbare because they remind me of certain times, places, and people; I listen to old songs just to feel wistful; I cloak the past in a golden sheen. I sometimes even catch myself feeling tender towards the most strife-filled periods of my life.

So if I get nostalgic for the bad times, imagine how schmaltzy I get when remembering the good years.

My good years are epitomized by my time in post-secondary education; I lived a charmed existence at the University of Lethbridge from 2000 to 2005.

Although many college experiences differ from mine, my time at the U of L was characterized by an immersion into all the freedoms of adulthood, with none of the responsibilities.

I ate what I wanted, drank what I wanted, stayed up as late as I wanted, and deliberately chose classes in time-blocks that would not interfere with my hedonism. My only obligation was to pass all my classes, which was easy, because I usually found the subject matter interesting.

I also got to come back to the Yukon every summer, where I reconnected with my old high school friends and continued an indulgent lifestyle. And to top it all off, whenever I ran into friends of my parents, or people who had known me since I was an infant, I would receive hearty handshakes, and earnest well-wishings.

“You’re in school down south? Good for you son,” they might say.

Not only was I not being reprimanded for my debauchery, I was being actively encouraged and congratulated.

What fun.

But such eras inevitably come to an end, and now I am left with my memories and lasting friendships.

I was not thinking about my college years when I visited my mom for dinner the other night, but that changed when she told me she’d found a bunch of old ID cards of mine.

Among them were my U of L student card, and a VIP card for a short-lived Lethbridge nightclub. I was plunged into nostalgic recollection.

My picture on the student ID card was taken during my first day on campus. Though the image has faded with time, my wide-eyed innocence and semi-mullet hairdo still shine through. My picture on the nightclub card was taken a few years later, when I had even managed to get laid a few times. I’m wearing a toga (clichéd, I know) and my grin is the grin of a cocky kid who thought he had life figured out.

Point of clarification: boy, was I wrong.

I probably hadn’t seen either of these cards in seven years, so I sat on a stool in the kitchen, holding them tight and feeling neck deep in nostalgia.

And yet, I don’t want to go back to being who I was; I’m thankful that I make a living as a wordsmith, but the boy in these pictures wasn’t a writer because he had nothing worth writing about.

As grateful as I am for those grand years, I’m also grateful that I grew up, got miserable, and lived to tell the tale.