Wednesday, October 28, 2009

20th College Reuinon: A Different Kind of Endurance Event

It's Wednesday morning; three full days since I said goodbye to my old college friends in Williamsburg. My throat still hurts, my voice still sounds like Bob Edwards and my feet just don't wanna run. This is going to take a bit of time to recover from. This, my friends, calls for some of my ultrarunning recovery skills: week off, lots of water, plenty of protein, and of course, whenever possible, naps, naps, naps.

How did we do this in college? How did we stay out until 3 or 4 in the morning every weekend, (every single everlovin' weekend!), and survive, let alone get anything done?

Ah, youth?

I am so far out of practice it's ridiculous. I go to bed at 8:30 for chrissake. 9 tops. If I stay up past 10 I feel very hip indeed. Before last weekend, I cannot remember the last time I saw 11 go by on the clock.

But oh my goodness did we have fun! There is nothing like getting together with old friends, with people you knew well (or even not so well, it turns out) 20 years ago. The minute you put yourself back in the original habitat (Paul's, the College Delly, The Greene Leaf, for example), BOOM, it's like no time has passed. One beer (or even no beers, Glen) and you're back in business. Laughing (god, did we laugh), and as Joey says, laughing about yourself with old friends is the best kind of belly laughing you're likely to find.

I was an excellent student in high school. My GPA was well above 4.0. I took all the hard classes, lettered in 4 sports, had some good friends, had some good times, but generally put my nose to the grindstone and churned out quality work. I was not terribly original. I did not particularly stand out in any one area. I was just a hard working kid who got good grades all around. A teacher's dream student.

Once I got to college, I sort of let that all go. In retrospect, I think I may have spent so much time in high school trying to please other people (teachers, coaches, etc.), that by the time I got to college I was thoroughly sick of it all. I still thought of myself as smart, but I wasn't so interested in proving that to other people. I didn't do what I was supposed to do: work hard, befriend my professors, join clubs, make a name for myself.

College, for me, was a long delayed social education. I made wonderful friends. For the first time since well before my teen years, I had close friends. People I could talk to, dance with, run with, be with, without feeling outside of myself. I am not the most talkative and forthcoming person in the world, but any social skills I now have, I attribute to my college "education."

Because man oh man, did we have fun.

Starting last Friday afternoon, I tossed myself back in the soup. I dropped Nell off with my sister in Richmond (thanks, Maria!) and the boys with my parents (thanks, Mom and Dad!) and I joined the Homecoming Train, which had started a week earlier picking people up along the way: Connecticut, New York, Alexandria, Richmond and finally Williamsburg. By the time I arrived at the Ho House (Hospitality House Hotel) the revelers were mere lumps on the bed. They were gravelly and shaky and pale. They needed to get outside!

So we crossed the street, got our name tags and hit the Greene Leaf.

All photos here are courtesy of Cathy, our own Events Coordinator, pictured at right. Thanks for being diligent with the camera, Cathy!

That drink there is a bourbon and ginger ale, which was our drink of choice back in the day. Tracy ordered one for old timey sake and it came in this huge pint glass. I noticed all the drinks came in huge pint glasses. We had to pass it around to finish it. Drinks used to come in little cocktail glasses. What's up with that?

So excellent to see people as they drifted in. Some married with kids, some single with maddeningly interesting careers, some juggling both, some not. Funny how everyone ends up. And never what you would have predicted. (Why is it that the biggest f%$ ups in college -- excluding self here -- now make the most money? You go, my people!)

Here are my peeps.

You can see the bitter remains of a calamari appetizer sitting there on the bar. We all shared those fried little babies, and that was the last food any of us (except Tracy!) saw until our Cheese Shop sandwiches early the next afternoon. Again, I ask you, how did we survive in college? How did we not drop dead from vitamin deficiency?

Around 9 we headed over to the Class of '89 gathering at the Alumni House.

All good. Cool to see everyone.

Just as we were getting ready to head back to the Ho House for late night festivities I turned a corner and literally bumped into my old friend, Dave, one of my staple people from both high school and college. I screamed, he laughed and we hugged over and over. I could not believe he was there. But there he was, calm as the Buddha, chuckling and nodding, big as life. Amazing what you find at reunions. I wanted to pull him aside and talk for hours. Talk all night. But it was a reunion, after all, and you must move on.

We sat out on that patio at the Ho House until we got kicked out in the wee small hours of the morning. I was shocked they let us stay out there so long, because we were not quiet. Evidently no one complained. Here I am with Tracy, who I lived with all four years in college and now lives in the Bay Area and is one of the few people I love talking to on the phone, and Katie who is one of those amazing people I wish I had known better in college but am thrilled to have in my life (at least as it exists in FB) now.

Most people went back to Ducie's suite after this for more good fun, but I called it a night. I was hoping to get in a run Saturday morning. In retrospect, I should have gone. But I was feeling done, done, done.

And indeed I did run Saturday for a couple of hours through my old college routes. It was good to be alone. Good to be moving. Good just to be outside.

Saturday was all about tailgates and finding lunch. We heard my freshman roommate Val's band play by the Sunken Garden. Rock on, Val! You sounded amazing. When we rolled in she was jamming on the drums with a huge smile on her face. Freaking awesome!

Tracy, Glen and I walked over to the Cheese Shop to pick up sandwiches for everyone. Fun to talk to Glen, who is now 8 years clean and sober. Glen making sense is kind of a new thing. We had an extremely enlightening conversation, which I will not go into here.(For those of you with curious minds: picture that famous bar conversation between Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and, as Tracy says, add a zero.) My goodness, Glen. Who knew?? (Everyone but me, evidently!)

Just look at him!

Maybe you had to know him before, but look how focused his eyes are! Look how lean his face is! And he's signed up for an Ironman next fall! (Thump.......I'm okay...........just a sec........I'm getting up......). I'm back. Well done, Glen!

The cocktail-less Cocktail reception that evening was excruciating. Tracy and I and almost everybody else in on the Homecoming Train had taken an afternoon nap, which made us (only me?) a little grumpy. Being forced into a long room with no circulation, bad food and a bunch of faces I could just barely place almost put me over the edge.

The whole ultrarunning thing is kind of a conversation stopper. One person would tell another person. You ran 100 miles! We all have our addictions, people. I'm sure half the people reading this have run 100 miles. It's just what we do. For the absolute love of it. I love the whole scene. No big deal.

Finally, finally we all filed down to the basement ballroom where a kickass opening band, The Velveteens, put the spark back in my step. Ska, baby! Love it. No one would dance with me, so I danced by myself. I look like a dork here, but I was wildly happy.

Look, I have even forgiven Tony, who thought it was a good idea to call my room over and over early Saturday morning (4 a.m. early) to try to get me to come back out. I'm okay, you're okay, Tony man. Can you guess which one is me? People used to get Kathy and me mixed up in college. Not so much anymore!

All good. All fun. We danced and danced. But, man, it's a good thing these events happen only once every five years. Perhaps by then I'll be ready to do it all over again.

These photos (thank you, Tuna) say it all. Bob and Kim seeing each other for the first time in years.


  1. Pam,

    Thanks for the excellent recap of the weekends events. A wonderfully candid and well worded view. Thanks for sharing. From what you and others have said, a good time was had by all. I thought about going several times, but really did not put enough effort into closing the deal.
    John Buechler

  2. Wow Pam, at least I had a productive weekend. Although I guess, in a college kind of way, so did you. Must have been a fun ride home. Glad that you had fun.


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