Saturday, June 16, 2012


I'm back in the place where I started to learn about myself and my place in the world. The place where I was totally broken, and built back up. The place where what I learned was so much more from the people I met, than from the books I read. The place that offered me failure on a platter; and I ate it up.

I'm overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety, delight, and joy at seeing old spaces and faces. I embrace the nostalgia while I'm hearing updates about what the institution has been doing and how alumni are supporting current students. We have lots of opportunity to pay forward the gifts we were given. I work in higher education. I see the work behind the scenes. I get it.

The women's bathroom in the music-drama building;
my college practice room
There's so many new buildings and facilities on this campus. Spaces and amenities that produce a fair amount of jealousy. I'm fighting feelings of resentment for students who now enjoy them. Yet, the dorms are still the same, and there are plenty of remnants of the spaces I invested much time and brain sweat. These students are still in the same place I was - being broken and built up again to find a way to change the world.

The same Fox River flows at the bottom of Union Hill. There are two students who still mow the lawn on the hill; one pushing the mower in parallel lines down the hill while the other steadies the weight of the mower with a rope on the top of the hill. There are still students who stay on campus in the summer to work during Reunion weekend. They remain a lingering image of our past selves. I've often said to my colleagues on campus; we age, but the students never do.

When I was a student, I would look at the reunion classes of 20+ years and think they looked so old. I hear my classmates say to each other how much we still look the same. We know who is telling the truth.

I graduated 25 years ago at the tender age of 22. These numbers are not at a fulcrum; my life after college is longer than the years preceding graduation. I'm feeling out of balance. I've relived four years of my life in the past day. The swoosh of memory, of lessons, of pain, and of survival has put me off-center.

There are times when a person has to completely clean out the room in order to put order in the space. I just spent a week doing this in my home. I removed all the built up clutter; relocated it to another room, sorted out the things to keep from the garbage. If there was no immediate or future purpose of an item, it went into the garbage.

I realize now that I'm doing the same thing with my college memories. The lingering memories that serve no purpose of inner peace are leaving me. I have found that once again, this campus, these friends, these faculty have helped me find myself again.

"You have earned your good luck through the struggles you've had." (Marjory Irvin, June 16, 2012 3:15pm)

I am blessed with a few moments of grace to accept all of this history as the fabric of my being.


note: thanks to a conversation with classmate Jeffrey Jolton who shared this articulation with me at lunch today. It was just the frame of mind I needed to face a blank screen.

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