Those Class Reunions

 

My Freshman Dorm (foreground)

My Freshman Dorm (foreground)

I’ve attended two class reunions: my high school’s 25th and 50th. I’m done with them. By my 50th reunion my class of 500 had already lost 70 classmates. Gloomy. Plus I didn’t remember almost everyone who was there and they didn’t remember me.

When it came time for my college reunion I debated going just to see the campus, but decided against it. I’ve stayed in touch with the 6 women I cared about and I pretty much don’t remember the rest.

I went to Heidelberg College (now University) in Tiffin, Ohio for two years. I had a typical small college experience and made some very close and long lasting friendships. When I transferred to the University of Akron and later to Kent State, my experiences were not nearly as meaningful.

I’ve been back to Heidelberg a few times since I graduated. About 10 years ago I went with 2 sorority sisters. We toured the campus and remembered events that happened in each place we visited. It was a bitter sweet time. We’d heard the “The Berg” had some financial troubles and nearly closed its doors. Our sorority mirrored the campus’s decline.

But last weekend Dave and I drove over to look over the place and I was very glad we did. The campus has been given a new life. Buildings were remodeled and additions had been made. There was a new student union and a newer gym. Gardens and sculptures and enhanced open spaces with new landscaping gave the whole place an updated feel.

Even though we couldn’t get in any of the buildings on a Saturday in August, I still could reminisce about the chapel, my dorm, and the girl’s gym, “kissing bridge,” and downtown. Memories came to me that I thought I had long forgotten: boys serenading their girlfriends, me waking up my friends more than an hour too early to go to breakfast in our hair curlers, writing letters during chapel, playing bridge in “the castle,” picking up my mail at University Hall, and sharing a room with Sue Gordon my freshman year.

Some buildings were gone which was disorienting and some places were not where I thought they should be. The President’s home is now an honor’s house.  The skating rink is now a tanning salon. None of the downtown restaurants remained. We left town to find lunch.

Nevertheless, the visit was just right. I didn’t need to get inside the buildings to have vivid pictures of leaving my Spanish class, or playing tricks on my pledge boss, or singing in the chorus “On the Street Where You Live.” The diners are gone but I still remember the “deep” conversations- and the silly ones too- we all had while waiting for meals we paid for (instead of our parents).

Those years were pivotal for me because I learned to overcome being homesick; get myself up and to all my classes, and to start afresh with no lingering past history. It all was exciting and slightly adventuresome for a gal raised in the 50s. There was a life that couldn’t be extended at a larger commuter school or in graduate school.  Yet, I will never be the person who says they were the best years of my life.  I don’t miss studying for exams, worrying about getting a date for the dance, or trying to stay awake during my class right after lunch.

Memories are grand but not nearly as good as you can make life in the here and now.