You can go home again

I spent last weekend in Macon, Georgia at my 10-year college reunion. I went to a very small women's college - Wesleyan College. With only about 600 students, everyone knew everyone. About 30 of us from my class showed up for the reunion, and it was an impossibly fun weekend.

I don't know how I would even begin to explain what it was like to spend my four years at Wesleyan. The first college in the United States chartered to grant degrees to women, it's a school steeped in tradition. Though at the time, I rolled my eyes a bit at some of it, I know that the atmosphere there is what helped to create the best friendships of my life. This weekend we sounded like old ladies, whining about how the students are no longer required to live on campus. We marveled at holding a beer while walking through the quad, remembering our time on that dry campus* as something a bit like the Prohibition era - lots of time spent trying to figure out how to break the rules. We worried that current students weren't getting the true Wesleyan experience. But then don't our own experiences always seem the truest? 

Celebrating 175 years.
Obviously students at colleges everywhere develop close friendships, but am I wrong to think that there was something particularly special about what happened with all of us at Wesleyan? Stepping back there was like entering a time warp, and within hours, it was all the same. Some people I hadn't seen or talked to in 10 years. And yet - bam! - there we were at our favorite Mexican restaurant drinking margaritas and laughing until we cried. And crying until we started laughing at ourselves.

Sitting in the hotel lobby late into the evening, I thought about our 21-year old selves, about the girls who sat around in their campus apartments talking about what would be next, about where they wanted to go and what they wanted to do. Ten years is forever and no time at all. We've gotten PhDs and masters degrees and JDs. We're professors and pharmacists and attorneys and teachers and sales reps and civic leaders and students and freelancers. We're parents and spouses and fiancees and very old friends. We've lost people we love, and we've done things we never thought we would do. Very few of us have it all together the way I imagined we would at this age.

The dining hall where I spent many a fabulous meal back in college. Hasn't change one drop.
We're still questioning and confused. We're still sitting around talking about what comes next, about where we want to go and what we want to do. We're still wondering if we're on the right path. We're still looking to each other for a pat on the back, for a hug, for a shoulder to cry on. 

It was a practice in being present. My college experience went by so fast, and that was four years. This time, I only had 48 hours to soak it all in. We slept as little as possible, trying to eek out every ounce of each other, hopefully enough to hold us until the next time.

And of course we promised that it won't be so long until then. But it's never easy - not when there are jobs and budgets and spouses and children and miles and miles and miles between us all.

I'm making my commitment - to text and call and email, to write letters, to stay connected to those women who helped shape my life. 

It's entirely selfish. I love them. And I crave the grounding that they give me, the sense of being deeply known. Of being loved. 

So to all you PKs out there, you're definitely number one.  


*Wesleyan is still a dry campus, but apparently alums on campus can get schnockered.