Back to Brown

This weekend was my fifth college reunion, so we red-eyed back to Providence for three days.

When you come back for reunion you get an empty room with bare furniture, sheets, a pillow, two towels, two bars of little soap, and a nice welcome packet. It’s so spartan – rather symbolic of arriving on campus without all of the trappings (friends, meal plan, computers, furniture, wall decor, music, endless work and commitments) that made college hum. And yet. Within minutes I ran into people I knew (and many people Kevin knew), and for most hours of the weekend we had more activities than minutes to devote to them. Even the trip back up to Logan had three options – leave early with my parents, stay an extra hour and take the train, or accept a last minute invitation to ride up to Boston with a fellow Brown dinner friend from Seattle (an ’07 grad). (We took the train – nostalgic for me and great conversation fodder for the two of us in our constant east coast/west coast struggle. And then we met up with the Seattle friend at the airport for a beer and the Red Sox game – a very college compromise.)

In shuffled order, some thoughts about the weekend:
– I miss the people I knew there. The BAM is helpful and recently facebook has been such a boon, but it was such a treat to see people in person again. And it was so fun to see how people have grown, and how they’ve remained constant. Marriages, kids, career paths (my favourite of the weekend was a classmate and former co-TA CS major who is now designing wooden puzzles and toys). I’d forgotten over time how varied and exceptional my classmates were. It was eye-opening to see them again and see all of the different routes that you can pursue with a liberal arts degree and five years. 🙂 Go, Brown.

(Wayland and Phi Psi friends out for byob sushi on Wickenden – 14 people in a small room with a mirror means a terrible photo, but the dinner was great fun.)

– Every time I go back, it feels like home. You can’t believe how hard it was not to steer into Sears 311, my dorm room of two years, every time we passed. I look for faces on campus that are no longer there. Force of habit is so strong.

– I came home footsore. Remember how busy and unsettling the prefrosh week was? 3 days of reunion is the same thing, but unexpected. As an 18 year old, you want and expect your foundations to be rocked. At 26, you’re complacent and prepared, but the experience of being back with your class in a place that feels like home shakes things up.

– My parents and both of my siblings graduated from the same school that I did. I can’t tell you how proud I am of that. It’s an additional, deep bond. I’m also so glad that Kevin and I met before senior year of college and that he spent enough time on campus to have a credible sense of the university. Dad and I share a reunion year, and so here we all are on Saturday evening:

– I was actually expecting way more people to be married. From what I can tell, it’s practically only the girls in my freshman unit? Something in the water?

Wonder where we’ll all be in life at our tenth?

Ever True to Brown, part II.

Graduation has made me cry ever since my year. There’s something so horrible about being forced to leave college. And then there’s all this tradition, and pride, and desolation, and rending of bonds, and community. And at Brown, the reunions are all the same weekend, and so the alumni are back, and graduation includes something called an inverted sock (where all the alums march down the hill, then the grads march through them to wild applause, and then the alums march through the grads, to general exulatation), and it’s all so emotional and important to me. So.

And then they have bagpipers, which also make me choke up. (Here are a few of the 20-some that solemnly marched by… pipers and muliple kinds of drums. Again, ceremony and formality.)

And then my brother is graduating — the third Brunonian sibling in five years (and my parents started the trend by meeting at Brown in the seventies) — and so it’s not only his achievement, but something that reverberates around my family.

My brother and his friends positioned themselves as last in line, based on the general agreement that they absolutely wanted to leave less that anyone else in the class. But on their way (literally dancing) down the hill, they led boisterous choruses of the school song. What a good way to go. I joined in for a few yards to end the verse — it wasn’t a reunion year for me (or Dad, Mom or Shar), and I wanted Dave to have someone from the family who’d walked down the hill to cheer for him.

Here’s a photo of the two of us as I looped by him with the (temporarily adopted) class of ’02:

And another of him as he said “fake happeee!” for the camera…

(There was one with all of his friends, and while they’re all generally photogenic and awesome, that phrase doesn’t lend itself to awesome photos. :-))

And one of Dave and my parents.

Ever True to Brown

My mom, who really already had enough to do what with moving and weddings and whatnot, booked a room for me and Kevin for my brother’s graduation. We were right on the corner of North Wayland, facing Wriston, on the third floor. It’s right in the middle of the action — much fun. I love staying in the dorms. I outgrew wanting to live there permanently midway through senior year, but I love the wave of nostalgia when I’m back to visit.

On Saturday (the morning after Campus Dance), there are classes for all of the returning alums and visiting families of graduates. Aparently the Brown Band marches around as an interlude. Here they are cruising up Wriston, right around noon.