ruthless compassion (aroraborealis) wrote,
ruthless compassion

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Alma Mater

I spent the past weekend at my 5th year college reunion. Five years seems like a pretty small amount of time, and in some ways I felt silly about going to a reunion after being gone for less than a decade, but, on the other hand, lots of people go to the 5th, and it wasn't too expensive, and it's not terribly far from Boston, and people have been up to a lot in that time, and, well, there were people I hoped I'd see...

So I went, and I had a really wonderful, weird time.

We were housed in the quad where most of my friends lived our junior year, which was a good year for me, and I enjoyed that housing arrangement a fair amount, so it was kinda fun to be back there. They've done some minor renovations of those dorms, which made them oddly familiar/unfamiliar, which is pretty appropriate as a theme for the whole weekend.

I got to campus in time to hit a lecture on the lessons of the Iranian revolutions by one of my favorite professors, who has a distinctive lecture/discussion style, so I was immediately immersed in feeling like I hadn't really left college, so much as taken an extended vacation. It was a good lecture, and then I checked out my room, where I immediately had the sense that I should rearrange and put up posters.

The familiar/unfamiliar sense continued as I wandered around campus, which is beautiful, of course, but there are some changed things, too. Meandering through Baxter, I automatically peeked in my mailbox to see if I had mail (no, and what would I have done if I HAD? THAT's what I want to know!) All the buildings smelled the same -- and it's amazing how scents are incredibly evocative of moods and memories.

At the president/alumni dialogue on Friday afternoon, I "met" the new president, who I instantly liked a LOT more than his predecessor, who was there for only a few years when I was there. Although, it's hard to have the appropriate respect for someone named "Morty". During that talk, I ended feeling a big disjoint between "me" and "Williams" -- How did I end up at Williams? It's such the New England, elite school, and here I am, a girl from Wyoming, who's still figuring out what she wants to do with her life... what the...? But I did love my time at Williams, and I met some amazingly wonderful people, and I learned a whole heck of a lot. And, in truth, I do believe in the value of learning of and for itself, so even if I never really use my religion major, I think it was worthwhile.

We ran into our (lame duck) class president after the talk and spent a lot of time in the snack bar, catching up and talking about life as "adults". The pres is someone I never really knew when we were in school, but I'm really happy that I do, now. He's one of those people who can make you feel smart and funny and insightful just in the way he responds to you in conversation. Really neat.

And it turns out that that's another theme of the weekend: I went to school with some damn fine people, many of whom I didn't get to know at the time, and that's one of the things I'm happiest about in having gone back -- there were a lot of people I reconnected with, and a surprising bunch who I had never met before and now I know even more great folks.

The class dinners each night were fun, if a little soggy, and I even did some dancing on Saturday night, until my ears started complaining too much about the volume of the music (par for the course for me and DJs) and then I went to bed early.

The most notable part of campus wandering was meeting up with the tree that was planted in honor of one of my JAs, Matt Stauffer, who died of leukemia in 1997. Matt was an incredibly vibrant, fun, welcoming guy, and he was really helpful to me in my first year at Williams, which was a tough time for me. He's one of those people who wasn't in my day-to-day life after my first year, but I have incredibly warm memories of him, and it's sad to know that he isn't out there living his life.

Overall, my time back ended up being a time of revisiting a part of myself that I don't work with a lot these days, and maybe I'll start to change that, as a result. It's funny, because on the one hand, I know that the college puts these reunions together as a way of keeping the alumni strongly connected to the school so we'll give money and stay involved. And on the other hand, I totally bought into it, and I'm happy about it. Funny how that is...

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