Um Yah Yah. That is the chorus to my college fight song. I’d sing it for you but I can’t embed video in the blog post. Pity. It’s quite a song and we even throw shade at the other (more prestigious) college in the same town.
It’s been 25 years since I graduated from college. 25 y e a r s. The college days were a tough four years for me. I believed at the time that the other 3,000 people on campus were probably having a WAY BETTER AND EASIER time than I was. Youthful narcissism is so ugly. A multitude of factors contributed to that rough patch and the final year was a slow low visibility on-ramp to a full-blown clinical depression following graduation but I didn’t know that then. (A story or novella for another day)
I was relieved to put that chapter behind me and I made it clear I would not return for any reunions. Ever. Never. And then 25 years passed and a few thousand things happened. And somehow I end up on the reunion planning committee because a few classmates who I always enjoyed asked so nicely. People I went to college with always ask nicely. They are a real civil group. I love that. When we met in a larger group in the winter, someone asked me why now? What changed? And I told them…it was me. I changed. Age is a great equalizer and by now..well…we have all been through one shit storm or another. Or several. Or we are in the middle of one now. Can’t make it to this age unscathed. I was ready to go back because I was finally fully grateful.
And I truly had a magical weekend save for one injury. More on that later.
We had Friday flowers. Back in 1993, you could buy flowers and give them to a friend or romantic interest. This time around we all got them. That was fun.
I overcame my deep dislike/fear? of public speaking for a full two minutes. But I was among friends so that was fun.
We tried their new award-winning food. A far cry from 1993 when I saw a white van in front of the student center one time that read “Grade D meat for schools and prisons.” (true story) And they still had Lucky Charms which were an entire food group for me in college so that was fun.
And we walked around campus and visited all of our old dorms. That was fun.
And saw some new improvements. That was fun.
And there were people singing everywhere. You know how former athletes can start a pick up game of basketball at a moments notice? Here it is singing. Only at my alma mater can 12 people decide to riff on Beautiful Savior and do it well. (Not me. I just admire quietly so I don’t ruin it.) And there was laughter. And there were a few tears. I got to apologize to an old friend. And I think he forgave me. And there was very little, “What do you do?” talk and so much more “How have you been?” talk. While I have no designs on my children going to the college I went to-I hope they go somewhere where they feel this way…even 25 years later, that a great education is never wasted. And the true value of the experience is in the people. Damn good people.
And there was simple joy in reliving all of the good old days in all the familiar ways. Staying up until 2:30 am, having conversations while showering, having besties help you make cute shoe selections, laughing with friends, telling the stories, eating pizza and sub sandwiches in the familiar haunts and not worrying about the aftermath of any of it. But as they say, all good things must come to an end. So I drove home with a friend and we reminisced more and at some point we both realized how tired we were because we kept repeating ourselves. Which brings me to my injury.
I grabbed my bags out of my car. When my daughter saw me she told me I looked like “The Day After.” Honestly, she was being kind. I felt a fatigue so deep I couldn’t even come up with a witty retort.
I marched straight upstairs, dropped my things all over the bedroom floor, clothes and charging cords falling out of bags and crawled into the refuge of my own bed and snored for two hours.
Some 5 hours later I found I was going to bed…again. I’m 46 and I felt all the years. It is important to mention here that I never get up in the middle of the night. Ever. Not from insomnia. Not to go to the bathroom. Not if there is a thunderstorm. I never wake up. In fact, when my children were small I felt quite resentful having to see their tiny sweet faces at 3am. But I was awakened by an insatiable thirst. Likely due to a steady diet of pizza and popcorn and wine and hoagie’s and chips and freaking Lucky Charms. On my way to get water I slipped cartoon style on the plastic coated bag from my college bookstore and landed with a loud thud on top of…wait for it…my upturned wedge heels. I FELL trying to get a glass of water. Like an elderly woman. I gave myself a post-reunion hydration injury.
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT AHEAD
DO NOT LOOK if you are squeamish about bruises, middle-aged thighs or if you have 20-year-old thighs and want to enjoy your denial that they will never be 46-year-old thighs OR if you think viewing my injury will irreparably damage our relationship forever.
Consider yourself warned.
Why get a tattoo to commemorate the weekend when you can walk away with a contusion?
So, in the words of writer Tom Robbins, “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.” You can go back. You can recreate the magic. You can tell all the stories. You can celebrate the good old days with all of the old and some new favorite people. But for the love of God, show some restraint with the sodium.
Sodium is a young person’s game.