You can, you know?
Go home again.
I know because today I did.
I went back to the place I loved when I was growing up. Wesleyan College. When my Mama was in school there, finishing a degree that I had unintentionally and in utero interrupted, I visited and fell in love with it. Mama spent two years in classes there to change majors and finish a degree she had only been two quarters shy of twelve years earlier.
She took us to campus when we were out of school and she had classes. I sat in the solid wood desks in Taylor Hall and wrote stories while she learned Psychology. I had no clue that six years later I’d be sitting in those same desks, fascinated by the same course of study Mama loved.
She and Daddy took us to plays and concerts and performances by the Naiads (the synchronized swimmers) on a regular basis.
It already felt like home before I set foot on the campus in fall of ’86 as a full-fledged Wesleyanne.
And so it has ever since.
My four years there gave me memories and friends I’ll treasure forever.
I married there twelve years after graduation. Right there around the same fountain I was thrown in on my birthday every year. ‘Cause that’s what we do–throw you in the fountain on your birthday and when you get engaged. It’s called love, people. And tradition.
And about that. The tradition continues. Aub began her Wesleyan journey officially on August 17, 2013. What an amazing journey hers has been. Despite a hard semester emotionally, she did well academically. She too has made friends whom she will love forever. And she made another tradition a huge part of her life.
In a nutshell, each class elects a committee who writes and directs their class’ thirty minute comedy-musical. Aub was elected to be on her class, the Pirates, committee. Since last fall, she and four other wonderful women from her class wrote and edited and dreamed and spent many hours creating their class STUNT. Three weeks ago they read the STUNT to their class for the very first time. Yes, it’s been kept a secret that long. And until three nights ago, the other classes had no clue what the other STUNTS were about. It all culminated in tonight. STUNT night. The big competition for the STUNT cup. Ticket sales from the event raise money for scholarships for rising seniors. This is the 118th year. That’s a lot of helping out your sister. And I was one of the beneficiaries many moons ago. Thankful.
Today was also Welcome to Wesleyan Weekend. The day Wesleyannes bring young women–daughters, nieces, friends–to campus to attend mock classes, listen to the story of STUNT, eat in the dining hall, see dorm rooms, and attend STUNT.
I took our Princess, my Golden Heart 2027. She has been so excited about this for weeks. She planned her outfit–jeans and her Golden Heart Wesleyan shirt that her big sister got her last fall. And a red sweater to support Aub’s class, the Pirates, in their effort to win the STUNT cup.
A precious day full of more moments to treasure.
Being with women whom I lived with for four years. Before we entered the “Real World.” I had promised to giggle the first time one of us had to use her “Mama” voice. And I did. But then I was the second–it was inevitable with my crew.
I sat in the dining hall and ate supper with friends I’ve known for a long, long time. Almost thirty years–what?! How did that even happen? And I had a wonderful visit with someone whom I had seen in plays there before my freshman year who became a dear friend. I adored her then and I still do. She’s just that fabulous.
One of the women from the class ahead of us led us in the singing of the Doxology. I don’t think I will ever hear the beauty of voices raised in song in this room and not get chills. Every. Single. Time. Funny thing is we only ever sang it on Thursday nights before Family Style Supper, and yet, when I went to sit down tonight, it was the first thing I remembered from my years there in that beautiful room.
Our children played together around the fountain, and we reminisced. So much to remember, so much forgotten, but one thing stood out. Sisterhood. It does last a lifetime.
We went to see the model room for one of the dorms. My room from my Senior year. Remodeled, but same room still. Then we went across the way to view a room in another dorm. The dorm that we weren’t allowed in while I lived there. Except for that one time. The irony is that the same women who let me in that one time also let me in tonight. I love them, but I might just hear that drum banging in my sleep. If I can even sleep tonight. Fortunately they were much friendlier this time around. 😉
As we stood around the fountain and sang our class songs, I looked across the way to my independent Princess who had found her way to stand with other Golden Hearts. She was not looking back once. Tears. Gratitude. A smile. She has found her way home too. She used those exact words tonight when we were walking back to our car, “Mama, it feels like Wesleyan is home.”
It is, baby girl, it is. And so another Wesleyanne is born.
While sitting in Porter Auditorium tonight watching the classes put on an awesome show, I moved in my seat. Without thinking, I reached down and felt the velvety sides to the leather seat. I knew without consciously remembering that’s how they were made. I’ve sat and touched the velvet during plays, concerts, convocations, meetings, STUNT rehearsals (so many of those), Alumnae meetings, and graduations. It’s like going in a house you haven’t been in for years and you just KNOW where everything is. Because it’s home.
Tonight I give thanks for folks who have known me forever it seems. For the ones who listen to old stories and new, for the laughter–oh thank you for the laughter, for little girls and big ones bonding together where their Mamas learned to begin growing up. For memories rising up and causing your heart to skip a beat because they are so vivid. For the whispered words of my roommate when I was climbing over a chair, “I’ve got you,” and the realization that yes, she always has. I’m thankful that my girl gets to create her own memories in the same place where her Mama and Maemae did so many years ago. I’m thankful that I left her tonight with a smile on her face and joy in her heart. Her class didn’t win the coveted STUNT cup, but they won something much better–a bonding experience and story after story that I hope one day they will share together on a sunny afternoon sitting around the fountain remembering with those they grew to love.
I’m also thankful for all who have supported her journey. Godparents and Aunts and family and friends who were sitting in the audience, cheering my Pirate on, I love and appreciate more than they can know. For folks who wore red or sent her encouraging words, it meant so much. And to my Wesleyan sisters who sat and watched and cheered for a class different from their own (and even brought her cookies), simply because she was mine and therefore theirs, my heart is full to bustin’.
Tonight I’ll be dreaming sweet dreams of home. Love to all.