October is my favorite month. I love autumn, and this month is its centrepiece. (Just had to spell that the British way.) We don’t have a riot of color in the west like they do in the east, but we get a little autumn color action here and there.
I went to a college reunion this past weekend. It wasn’t exactly my college reunion–well, it was and it wasn’t. Lemme ‘splain.
My career as an undergraduate was varied and wonderful–it just turned out that way. I went to three different undergraduate institutions. I started at Homerton College, Cambridge–did a whole year there. (Click on the link…great photo of the place.) I was studying to be a religious studies teacher (religious studies was compulsory in English schools at the time…don’t know if it still is or not). I knew that I didn’t want to stay in England and teach young kids. I was 18 and hadn’t lived in the States since I was 12. I wanted to come “home.”
So I went to Seattle Pacific University. I had never been to Seattle. I picked it because it looked like a good Christian liberal arts college and it wasn’t too far from Salem, Oregon, where my mom was living at the time.
Then in the fall semester of my senior year, I went on an exchange program from SPU to Westmont College. I went there because I was involved with a guy (who later became my first husband, but that’s not what this is about). Westmont is located in Montecito, a swanky, mansion-laden ‘suburb’ of Santa Barbara. The Kerr family (of Kerr jars fame) donated their estate to help found the college, and the neighbors have been complaining ever since.
I didn’t graduate from Westmont, but they treat me like an alum anyway. I guess when you’re a small school that’s only been around since 1940 and you don’t have a big endowment, alumni is defined in the most expansive way possible.
One of my themes this year has been reunion. I had a family reunion with my mother’s family in June, my high school reunion (also in June), and a family reunion with my dad’s side in August. I decided to help plan my 30th high school reunion which will be next August. So I really wanted to go to this reunion, even though I was sure that no one would remember me.
Susan and I hit the road on Saturday morning in her boyfriend’s Audi A4 (thank you, Doc Rockit) and rolled up to the campus in time for lunch. We sat ourselves on the steps leading down to the soccer field, and over the next several hours a parade of old classmates came by. Some people did remember me (whew!). I love reconnecting with people and hearing about how their lives have unfolded. I’m sometimes surprised by the high expectations I had for people and finding out they aren’t the super CEO I thought they would be. It amazes me after years of not seeing someone how intimate details of life are spilled out and held like precious pearls.
I find that I make new friends at reunions, too. People that I only knew from afar, or even people I didn’t know at all, become friends.
I’m an advocate of the reunion. It’s a benchmark of life. You can look back if you want to–look back a little, look back a lot. It’s your choice.
Besides catching up with other people, a reunion is a great time to check in with yourself. How do you sum up two or three decades about your life in a paragraph or two? What details are shared? What’s left out?
Other questions that a reunion brings up: Where am I now? Is this where I wanted to be? Want to be? What do I need to change NOW to get where I really want to go?