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Charlotte Takes College (Round 2)

My grandmother recently moved into an assisted living facility, and it’d be way easier to deal with if I wasn’t so insanely jealous. Her new life is just like my freshman year of college.


My grandmother really enjoyed college. Even in 1944 Denver was the hot, trendy, big city, and she got to spend some prime years at the University of Denver. She was in the Pi Beta Phi sorority which I’m assuming was exactly like the Pi Phis of my day who made these tank tops famous on campuses around the country.


And her father often had to remind her that she “didn’t have to drink *all* of the beer at the party.” She crushed college. So why wouldn’t she want Round Two at Devonshire Acres in Sterling, Colorado?


The move to Devonshire meant a lot of change, namely downsizing from a three bedroom townhouse to one single room about the size of the freshman dorm room I shared with my then best friend, Becca, who is now my current best friend, Rebecca (becoming a professional changes you.) It’s small but it’s efficient. If my grandma had a roommate, they could definitely, with some teamwork and creativity to reach the microwave, make Easy Mac without either one having to leave their bed. Just like me and (Re)Becca.


I’m sure it wasn’t easy but my grandmother really did a great job of making her room cozy and personal. It’s a perfectly condensed version of the townhouse. Everything fits and feels right. Well, everything except for her new zebra print sheets. But twin XL sheets are rarely sought out by anyone other than college-bound 18-year-olds so pickins are slim.


While my grandma really took advantage of being able to decorate her room to her liking, Devonshire’s communal décor made sure it catered to the masses. The halls are lined with what look like motivational posters – the kind with a photo of something like the forest at dawn and a caption like, “let them hear you roar.” But with a closer look, the posters use the same image but are captioned with something much less inspiring like, “you have the right to clean linens” or “know who is handling your finances.”


My freshman hallway was lined with similarly depressing posters that broke down the caloric equivalency of beer to cheeseburgers. Maybe Devonshire had the same design mentality as the RA’s at Williams Village Dorm – don’t put up anything nice because everyone will just get drunk and tear it down.


Not only is my grandma’s new environment very college-y, but so are the people. We visited on Bingo Day which gave me the special opportunity to see all the token college characters, 60 years later, in the same place(!) We saw the heartthrob who carried his full head of hair with quiet confidence, the ever annoying “Karen” of any collection of people who used the word ‘Honey’ to begin and end all sentences, and then of course, The Queen Bee: Bev.


Bev entered the Bingo room in full make up, her hair freshly blown out, and showing off her balance and swift stride by shooting fingers guns as she walked to her friends’ table. I saw plenty of Bevs in my college days…


At CU, we also had a big open activities room, it was called Club Norlin and it was our library. At Club Norlin there was a wide aisle through the rows of tables where everyone could see who walked in. It was like a runway and girls OWNED that walk (I didn’t, I walked slowly and softly on the outside of my feet to avoid the squeak my corrective insoles made inside of my shoes.) I respect the walk but at the same time, really? It’s just Bingo, Bev. And it’s just the library, everyone else.


Bingo with my grandma was the best. She was so excited to show off her grandkids and I loved being able to see the camaraderie Devonshire provides for her. One woman even had nicknames for her friends! It was the same nickname for everyone. And it was “grandma.” So it wasn’t super creative and it was confusing as hell but I loved the friendship vibe behind it.


Yup,  life at Devonshire is a lot like life at CU Boulder, except significantly less/to no binge drinking. Unless my grandma played it like I did when my parents came to visit and saved the shots for when the door closed on their exit. Nah, probably not, after all, she is a beer gal.

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