I got to Portland last night at 2 am (5 am east coast time) after an uneventful plane ride. On the Philly to Las Vegas leg, in the three seats across the aisle from me were three adults, a baby and a dog in a carry on-bag. Two very large wedding parties also added energy to the very full plane. I don’t remember much from the Las Vegas to Portland trip, being that I was passed out from exhaustion at that point. My dad picked me up, and my dog cried when I walked in the front door. It’s always nice to know that she remembers me. The cat never does.
Andrea and I hit the road this morning about an hour later than we had intended to (isn’t that always the way). I-84 to I-82 to 730 to 12 and we were in Walla Walla. 200 miles into our drive the downpour had stopped but it was both sunny and sprinkling, and I made a comment that it was perfect rainbow conditions. Minutes later the rainbow appeared, a dazzling quarter arch, with a vibrant purple streak. It stayed with us for a good twenty minutes. I declared it an auspicious beginning to the reunion weekend.
As we drove into Walla Walla (the gas tank on empty) I kept jumping and wiggling around in my seat and repeating the phrase “holy shit.” It seemed appropriate. I hadn’t been back to town since the day I graduated, three days after my 22nd birthday. It is amazing how many things are new and shiny and different. We pulled up in front of the new Student Center, for which they broke ground the day after our graduation. The Student Union Center (SUB) that I had spent many hours in had become a parking lot. I knew that that’s what had happened, but it was still totally jarring because my mental map of campus that had been built throughout my four years of college was rendered obsolete in an instant. I left Andrea for my 4 pm appointment with the Director of the Career Center (worked in the center my senior year and Susan became a good friend in that time) to which I was fifteen minutes late. She didn’t hold it against me. It was really fun to chat, catch up and get a little advice from her, as well as hear about all the changes that have occurred on campus since I left.
After that I went down to use the bathroom, thinking that once I emptied my bladder I’d give Andrea a call and try to figure out where to meet up with her. Turns out she was in the stall next to me, which made meeting up very easy. Good thing I always wear Dankso clogs, they make my feet highly recognizable.
We stopped in at the President’s Reception and began the very surreal experience that is attending a reunion. It just got weirder as the evening progressed. There was a gathering at the Mill Creek Brew Pub tonight for the classes of ’99, ’00, ’01. I ran into the woman who was my lunch host the day I visited the campus for a first time, when I was still a senior in high school. I saw friends that I had missed and some people I never missed. Many of the same social boundaries that kept us in place as undergrads still managed to corral people into cliques tonight, although as the booze flowed, some people crossed over. I started to get tired of having the same superficial conversation over and over again, so at one point, fueled by sleep deprivation and three Penitentiary Porters, asked someone I didn’t really know well how he felt about having the same, very surface conversation 12 times in one evening. He laughed, but a little uncomfortably so. It was at that point that I realized that the peanut shell-covered floor under the bar was starting to look like an appealing option to take a rest, and we headed back to Andrea’s cousin Lindsay’s apartment for the night.
Tomorrow afternoon I attend my department reception. That should be interesting.
Didn’t know which of your two posts to comment on so I’m choosing this one arbitrarily 🙂
Yecch, the awkward stale conversations are what I hated most about my first two/three reunions (don’t even remember how many I went to at the time), which is why I stopped going to them until the 10th. I didn’t even get the “wow campus has changed” excitement because I’ve been living near and working here at Penn ever since. Hope you have more good times, and a safe trip back!
Thanks for the heads up, I don’t know why two of that post went up, I guess Blogger hiccupped last night while I was loading it.
I think today will be interesting, and maybe I can push through some of the superficiality of the event. At least, I’m going to try.