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…”

Me! Class of 1987

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!”

Libe Slope

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 

22 Responses to “I wish I could go back to college…”

  • Hello, fellow Cornellian, Class of 1987!!! Thank you for posting!!!

  • It was great seeing you this weekend! Wonderful time reconnecting with everyone!

  • Astra, I am not reading your blog enough. Lovely writing on the many emotions of the weekend and returning to Big Red. Thx.

  • Astra, thank you for making time to join us for our 25th Cornell Reunion. We could not have such a successful weekend without your presence and participation. Besides, wasn’t the wine alone worth the $$?! 🙂

    • Yes, Tom, TOTALLY! They ran out of white wine at (one of) the tents on Friday evening, but I’m sure it was mostly my fault 🙁
      I thought the weekend was extremely well organized – even the “youngsters” (class of 2012?) at check in who spoke slowly and loudly to all us elders 😉

  • Thanks for sharing about the fun you had at your class reunion. Sounds like you had a blast and lots of fun reminiscing. Kudos to you for braving the storm!

  • Astra, would you believe I’ve only attended one high school reunion? Not even college, mind you, high school. And it was not as pleasant as the lovely weekend you describe here. How wonderful that you were able to see old classmates and spend time reminiscing! Monica and I also had a “class reunion” of sorts on our blogs. I missed you! I know you would have created a “killer” character, pardon the pun. Stop by my blog and laugh at how different your reunion was from what took place in this story!

    • Yours and Monica’s reunion whodunit was epic! The imagination and creativity of your commenters was pretty unbelievable. I so bad at whodunits… I also suggest the following standard line: it was Colonel Mustard in the library with the candlestick! Lame.
      Thanks for reading my reunion tale 🙂

  • Astra, I graduated from college about 10 years before you, and I only went to one reunion, about five years ago. I only remembered a couple of people. The rest were like blank slates. But I took my daughter (who was looking at prospective colleges at the time) and I had so much fun walking around the campus, pointing out things and sharing memories of my past college life. I’m glad I went.

    • i’m glad you went too. I found that yes, my short term memory is lost but was so surprised how vividly I remembered certain things once I got back to the campus. Funny how the human mind words.
      Amazing how the human mind and words worked on yours and Bella’s recent reunion adventure too. So impressive 🙂

  • Interesting timing, I’ve got my 20 year high school reunion in a few weeks and won’t be able to make it. I’m not actually “upset” that I won’t be there, I talk with the folks I have a connection with on a ongoing basis all the time,anyway. Now this year, however, my old college roomate and I decided that we are definitely going to our college homecoming. I’m actually looking forward to walking around campus again. Just talking with her on the phone (I haven’t seen her in 17 years) takes me back to being 20 all over again.

    • I hope you have a wonderful time at your homecoming. I have not been able to return to any of my high school reunions even though it’s geographically closer, yet I have been able to return to each of my 5-year university reunions. It’s unbelieveable how the campus visit brought back so many vivid flashback memories… yet I can barely remember what I gounded my kid for this morning?!?! Enjoy!

  • College reunion, my God. My class would be an ocean of people and the likelihood of running into anyone I knew would be minuscule. But I have attended a – yes, one – high school reunion. Went to small high school, where everybody knew everybody. People from other classes even came. That was much fun – the recalling of the non-academic activities overruled everything else and we wondered how we all survived. 8).

    • Yes … “the recalling of non-academic activities overruled everything else and we wondered how we all survived!” yet you did and perhaps this circle contributes to your resilience! I felt this way during my reunion weekend! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • You my dear, look fabulous and have not suffered at all. Truly. I’ve never been one to go back. It’s not in my nature to go back and relive the past. Oddness in me I suppose. Although, I do revisit the town a couple times of year (it’s on the coast and has a sweet patch of scruffy beach that continues to calm my spirit and where I run to when I need the fix). Yes, and there is Facebook!!

    • Brenda, thank you! I’m not sure if it’s ‘reliving the past’ but I do feel revitalized after visiting the campus (maybe the huffin’ and puffin’ up that slope contributing some cardio to my heart!). I’ve been back for my 5th, 10th, 15th and 20th before this one and hope I’m around for many more. Great to hear that your campus town provides respite for your soul and calm for your spirit, though I’m having a hard time believing your spirit is ever calm!!! Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Glad you had a good time! I can’t imagine facing a reunion myself but wish I could send people to be flies on the wall for me and report back.

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About Astra
Ottawa mom of 3 poking fun at myself, motherhood, and minor hockey! I am steering through life dodging stinky hockey gear and empty wine bottles.
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