Sunday, October 08, 2006
So I went back to my college alma mater for alumni weekend, the first time since I graduated over ten years ago.
First, let me just say that I loved college. Every single minute of it. Even the boring classes, with professors who droned on and on. Even staying up all night to finish a paper. Even wading through 6" of snow to get to the dining hall. Even drinking too much really, really bad fraternity party beer and suffering the consequences the morning after. Even having my heart broken by the first boy I ever loved.
Still, though, I was apprehensive about this weekend. I mean, what's a 30-something grl to do on a college campus?
Well, people-watch, first of all. I couldn't believe how young all the students looked! And I had to laugh at the parents who were in town as well, posing their children for picture while the poor kids rolled their eyes and tried not to look too embarrassed. I mean, here they are, on the cusp of adulthood, figuring out their own grown-up identities, and Mom and Dad are still buying them t-shirts at the bookstore and making sure they have the right books for class and...
But the best part of the whole weekend was seeing my old college friends. It's funny how we haven't really kept in touch. Most of my closest friends from those days live scattered across the country. We try and call or email, but you know how that goes. One month turns into six and then a year or two has passsed before you finally catch up again.
How wonderful, then, to find that underneath it all, beyond the stress and responsibilities of job and family, we are really still the same people we were when we were 18 and trying to negotiate the world. There is something powerful about reuniting with the people who knew you when you were young and skinny and naive and sad and scared and brave and successful and trying to forge your own identity alongside everyone else in that dormitory.
I always tell my students that they should go away and live on campus when they go to college, because class is just one part of the college experience. And to be honest, I don't even think it's the most important part (sorry, Mom and Dad - I know you paid a lot for my "education"). To learn who you are, in a place that's brand new, surrounded by people of all walks of life, is powerful stuff.
It was good for me to be reminded of that part of my life, of those people who knew me way back when.
Think maybe I'll go back next year too.