19 Again

How do you explain what it’s like to have one of the best weekends ever when the worst possible plan change happened during that weekend? That’s a question I’ve been working to answer while putting this post together, because the weekend really was a balancing act of “THIS IS THE BEST” along with “This isn’t the same.” This past weekend was 90 percent perfect, between the weather and the activities, but that 10 percent missing is huge. More than anything this weekend, more than seeing my college campus again, more than seeing people I hadn’t in five years, more than trying to figure out who changed and how much since graduating, this past weekend was about my anchor G, my soul sister E and I reuniting for our annual trip, this year back at our old stomping grounds, where we met and where we became the group that we are today. E and I had planned to road trip down together on Friday while G would be flying in later that night. The worst part about living so far is that you can’t control what happens when your only option is flying, and due to crappy Texas weather and crappy fucking luck for all of us, G’s flight was cancelled on Friday, effectively ending her reunion weekend before it began. Nothing could fix the hole in the weekend that arose once we knew she wouldn’t be there with all of us; nothing was going to make it better that she was stuck in Texas by no choice of her own.

Though G’s absence colored the weekend with the hazy blue of a missing piece, this weekend was, in a word, wonderful. Even before E and I drove past the main entrance, we were bouncing in our seats at all the familiar sites, the CVS where we always bought beer, the grocery store with the best food. When we drove onto campus after however many hours in the car in as many hours of traffic, there was this funny mix of feelings; first, thinking “of course I’m here, this is home,” almost immediately followed by “No, this isn’t home anymore. God it’s good to be back.” Memories came rushing in like a flash flood when you least expected, driving pass the old fraternity lodges and walking up the path to the business school where I spent all my days. We had flashbacks of people watching on the green, wandering through the freshman boy’s dorm where the class of 2010 was housed this weekend, joking about how gross and uncomfortable it was to be showering there without shoes, even though it was likely as clean as it would ever be. The first night we drank cheap beer for free in the Greek Theater with all of the reunion classes, and I had this flash to life in five year increments, coming back here every time to see how campus has changed, asking the new reunion people what life was like during their time at the school. It really felt like coming home again.

There were friendly reminders that we’ve all grown up a little, like the engagement rings dancing on fingers, new hair or a new attitude, but I think we all wanted a night, even just one night, where we could go back in time together and pretend nothing had changed. Friday night after the Greek Theater event the class of 2010 went back to our home for the weekend and decided to party like it was 2006, beer pong and flip cup lined the hallways, music blasted from every room. We took shots to college and real life, cheered when our team sunk the last cup, hugged even the people we didn’t know or like that much and asked everyone for an update on life. We blasted special playlists for the weekend until the wee hours, and when I finally crawled back to my room and into my single bed to sleep off the inevitable long morning, I fell asleep with a smile like a secret, as old memories kept flooding back and new ones made their way in. The next day time moved slowly, breakfast in the dining hall turned into a leisurely walk around campus in the blazing heat, turned into a nap on the dorm floor turned into another walk just because it was campus and it was there. E and I found a cockroach in our room at one point and though we had to call a man friend to come and kill it because cockroaches are gross, we spent the rest of the night laughing that of course that would happen. Our class dressed up for a reception later that night and listened to the band play all our old favorite tunes before fireworks signaled the end of a long day. It wasn’t the same because G wasn’t there, but it was as perfect as things could be, given the circumstances.

The last morning I woke up earlier than everyone else and decided to take a final walk, hoping to find a good spot to meditate for a while. Instead I found myself walking in circles around the lake with tears streaming down my face. Not sobbing tears, not happy bubbling tears, but a slow stream of emotion falling silently down my face as I looked left and right to old memories and ghosts of some of the best and worst years of my life. I passed the field where my first college boyfriend and me got into a screaming match the first night back from summer senior year, me sobbing for another chance and him pushing me away; I walked by the apartment where a drunken public makeout session at a birthday party started the next four years of my life. I saw the dorm where I met G and E, and the place I worked on campus looked just the same. I did end up sitting for a bit and meditating while I looked over the lake, taking a few minutes to let old and new memories settle and still, enjoying the last moments of being back in the place where I lived and worked and loved for four years. It wasn’t as sad leaving the campus this time compared to five years ago, though. I have a life I’ve built in NYC that I wouldn’t change for college or anything else. But it was wonderful for a few days, despite the whopping G-sized hole in everything, to head back and reminisce. This weekend kicked off a summer of adventures and unknowns by sending me back to the place where I was the most adventurous and wild I had ever been. Here’s to keeping that spirit as the next season unfolds.

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