The College Reunion, (KOL ij) (re YOON yun) n.
– When college alumni gather at their former university around an anniversary of their graduation.
“Life was so simple back then…”
I had accepted the fact that it has been a quarter of a century since I graduated (shudder), but nevertheless registered for and recently attended my 25th college reunion. I initially balked at paying that much money to sleep in a twin bedded 150 sq.ft. room and eat the lousy cafeteria food, but then I remembered that the fee included wine and reconsidered (upon financial review, the Reunion Committee might reconsider that one!).
Something about a campus makes us feel young again. As is often the case, alumni will make like they’re 19 again and realize after the first night of reunion reveling that indeed, they are not. Of course I had made arrangements to meet up with friends with whom I’ve kept in touch for all these years. For us the years that had passed meant fatigue and the need for a bathroom found us long before a hangover did, and for whom the loud band music prevented any comprehensible conversation (oh my God, I really do sound just like my parents). I was also able to find some people with whom I’d lost touch but the passage of time passed and our absence from campus was like nothing. There were those on whom 25 years had played a cruel joke and those for whom 25 years had only made them look better (may their plastic wine cups be filled with my spit). I didn’t realize how much I had missed them all.
“What would I give to go back and live in a dorm with a meal plan again!”
Alumni came from 21 different countries and48 states for this one weekend during which we laughed, we ate and we inhaled our shared affiliation with this place. Every single time I looked up at that clock tower, I got all choked up. Of course, that may be due to my recurring nightmares of the 480 foot walk up a 20% grade hill to classes at 0800 on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays, but also because that tower presided over my 4 years here, reminding me every 15 minutes of just how late I really was. That tower has presided over someone just like me for over 143 years.
“I need an academic advisor to point the way!”
How ironic that I spent the weekend commiserating with old friends about the loss of our short term memories, while we took great delight in reminding each other of dozens of incidents we’d been deliberately trying to forget, or at the very least denying categorically .
Of course, there are certainly a number of things that I do not miss at all and for which the passage of 25 years has not erased any of their offensiveness. Those all-nighters. The loans. The laundromats. And communal bathrooms. Ughhhh! Communal bathrooms.
Now that Facebook has taken it over the world, do we really need to attend a college reunion? In person? I mean with 800 million users, most of my friends are among them, and certainly a good number of my friends from college too. On the one hand, Facebook proved indispensible during the weeks preceding Reunion. Without even leaving my house, I lurked, I scoured photos of spouses and kids, I marveled in professional accomplishments and envied vacation destinations, comparing them all to my own. I scrutinized the expansion of upper arms and the depth of crow’s feet, and compared them to my own.
On the other hand, nothing can replace the feeling of a good belly laugh and an ever-faithful hug. Facebook can never replace the real Facetime, old school-style!
I am now fully re-loaded with souvenir t-shirts and coffee mugs, but will see you in 2017, friends. Until then, there’s always Facebook.
“But if I were to go back to college;
Think what a loser I’d be
I’d walk through the quad,
And think “Oh my God…”
“These kids are so much younger than me.”
Author’s note: song lyrics from “I wish I could go back to college” – Avenue Q