I’ve now experienced a whole slew of emotions in relation to this reunion. I started out at anxious, followed by skeptical and uncertain. Then came mildly intrigued, pleasantly surprised and reservedly enthusiastic. Today I’ve traveled through relative enjoyment, total nostalgia, hilarity, complete joy and utter fantastic-ness (that was after three and half glasses of free riesling, most of a plate of free cheese and piece of dark chocolate).
I’m having a terrific time. This morning we got up, showered and went for breakfast at John Wheatlands Bakery (spruced up on the outside, completely the same on the inside). After a large cup of coffee and a huckleberry scone, we headed for the Sociology majors meet and greet (I wasn’t a soc major, but there was a professor I wanted to see there, unfortunately she couldn’t make it). I left Andrea there and hit a couple of the town thriftstores. The Country Store hadn’t changed, it was the same down to the smell and the woman behind the cash register. We chatted as she rang up my purchases (big spender that I am, a whole $4.89 on a couple old jars, three plates and a cookie cutter). I told her I was in town for the reunion and that I was so glad that they were still open. She said, “We aren’t going anywhere any time soon.” I said I hoped to see her in six years, when I was next in town for a reunion and she grinned and waved me out.
Lunch was supposed to be a picnic on Ankeny (the big field in the middle of campus, my mother always called in “the quad.” She was the only one) but it’s been raining in Walla Walla, so instead we were in the dining hall. That was a fucking trip, let me tell you. It felt like we really had traveled back in time, standing in line with our trays, being served food by surly townies, queuing up for milk and juice from large dispensers. As we walked in, I just stood there, looking around, needing to take it in and process for a minute.
We gathered by Memorial Hall for the class pictures and stood grouped on the steps, just like the pictures of Whitties I’ve seen in the alumni magazine for all these years. I’m now one of the them. That part is a little unreal still.
This afternoon Andrea and I went over to the politics department wine and cheese event at one of the new tasting rooms on 2nd Street. The wine flowed and the talk bubbled. I talked with the professors who made up the bulk of my academic career (at least thus far) and found them to be even more fun and interesting than I had remembered. Part of that is that it was an opportunity to relate as adults, all of us working our ways through the world, without the pressures of impression, performance and grades. The amount of wine we all consumed was the other part, amazing social lubrication, that stuff.
I talked to people who had been my classmates, who I had never really connected with in college and found them to be kindred to me. I started to feel sad that they hadn’t been a vital part of my experience at Whitman, but someone pointed out that there is only time for so many people in your life at any one time. It was a joy to connect with them now, even if it was only for an afternoon.
Now is time to get ready for the main event, the Saturday night reception in the Reid Campus Center. Word on the street is that some long lost folks who transferred after our sophomore year will be there. Bring ’em on!