Going Home Again

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.

118 years.....wow.

118 years…..wow.

STUNT.

The Pirate STUNT committee--y'all did a great job!

The Pirate STUNT committee–y’all did a great job!

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.

The beautiful dining hall at Wesleyan.  As our Princess said, "It's more beautiful than I thought it would be."

The beautiful dining hall at Wesleyan. As our Princess said, “It’s more beautiful than I thought it would be.”

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.  😉

Heading to the fountain for our Pep rally.

Heading to the fountain for our Pep rally.

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.

I love this place and the things that never change.  Familiar.  That is home for me.

I love this place and the things that never change. Familiar. That is home for me.

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.

Old School Paper Writing and Feeling Old

Today’s “story from a ways back” is brought to you by 80’s radio.  The best place to find all your high school and college memories.

Yesterday as I was shuttling my little people hither and yon, the song “Like a Prayer” by Madonna came on the radio.  It immediately took me back to college.   And then to an afternoon a few months ago.

The song came on the radio that day, and I looked over at Aub, who was riding shotgun.

“That song goes back to my junior year, I think.”

She nodded and kept looking at her phone. “I wrote a paper about that song,” I told her, glancing over to gauge her response.

“Really?” she asked.

“Yeah, it was for a Religion class with Dr. Ledbetter.”

“Huh,” she replied, finally looking up.  “About the song?”

“Well, about the song and the video combined, I guess,” I told her.  “It took me over a week to write it.”

That got her attention.

“What?  Why?”

“I had to go over to the Rec Room every day around six to catch the video on the top video countdown on MTV on the big screen TV in there.  I had to hurry over to eat supper and then get down there before it started, because you never knew if that video was going to be at the beginning or closer to the end.  I’d sit and watch and take notes.  I went back several nights in a row before I had what I needed to write it.”

Ahem.  I might as well have been speaking Greek.

“You had to do what?  Wait now, you…..well, I mean, whaaa–I’m confused.”

Well of course you are, baby girl.

Kids these days.

If I were to write the same paper today–it was about the spirituality in the song and video, as best as I can remember–I could pop it out in just a couple of hours or so.  Suffice to say, it wouldn’t have been one of those all-nighters that I needed to keep doughnuts around to reward myself for every hour or so that I stayed awake writing.  (Hypothetically speaking, of course.) First of all, this was back when MTV actually showed Music Videos.  (Not that I’m aware of what they show now, but I’ve heard things.)  It was back before there was free cable in the dorms, where I could have watched it in the comfort of my room.  Back before the invention of the DVR, so I could have recorded it to watch at any time and not had to rush through my suppers all week long.  Wait, with DVR, I could have replayed the parts I needed clarity on over.  And over.  And over.  Until I had everything I needed.

But wait, there’s more.

This was before the advent of YouTube.

Whoa.

I know.

This was before we could pull up every possible music video with the exception of those by the artist Mr. Garth Brooks by going to a website on the world wide web and typing a few key words. Yes, there once was such a time, my friends. I had a computer while I was in college, thanks to my Daddy’s guidance and a gift from my Granny.  It served me very well.  But internet? Puh-lease.  I was lucky it wasn’t one of those wall-to-wall units.  It had a dot-matrix printer with the paper that fed through with tear-off holes on the sides, for goodness’ sake. As I listened to the song yesterday and caught my littles’ glancing with more than a little curiosity at their Mama belting out a song that wasn’t from the “Frozen” soundtrack or sung by anyone previously or currently known as a Disney Channel star, I thought about that paper, and what it would be like to write it now. I could totally do it in one sitting.  On a laptop.

Pull up video on YouTube.  Check.

Watch a couple of times, making notes.  Leave the tab up for quick reference.

Look up on Bible Gateway or another scripture website the key words from the notes I took to find Bible passages that will help me connect the meaning behind the song and video with Scripture.   (I think I used a Bible with a concordance the first time around.  It was neither quick nor efficient.)

Take notes from the Bible passages.

Click open the YouTube tab.  Watch the video one more time.

*Pause to check Facebook notification and comment on the cute pictures my roommate just posted.  Text my friend back who asked if I was about to head over for supper in the dining hall.*

Sort my thoughts, make some semblance of an outline.

Open up Word or a document file.  While I wait, message my classmate that I’m almost done with this paper.  Score!

Begin typing.  (MOST useful class I took in high school.  Hands down.  Thank you, Mrs. Pearson.)

Have the computer proofread for me.  (My old computer could sort of do that–it thought “toady” was an acceptable word so that didn’t go so well a time or two.)

Save it periodically as I type, as I probably would have learned my lesson before then.   I hope.

Save the final copy.

Open up my email account.

Compose an e-mail to Dr. Ledbetter.  Attach my paper to send.  Press SEND.

Done.

Seriously?

I don’t think my girl and her crew get how easy things are today.  Almost all knowledge and entertainment (with the exception of Mr. Garth Brooks’ videos–this troubles me greatly, y’all) are literally at their fingertips.  Just a few minutes ago, I opened up a tab and looked up “advent” to make sure I was using it correctly. By moving nothing more than my fingers.

Sigh.

I know I sound old, but when I think about how different such a simple thing as writing a research paper is today it blows me away.  My next child in line to go to college will be there in nine years.  What?  I wonder how much more advanced things will be.

Maybe the computer will write their papers for them.

Y’all. I’m old.

And on that note, I’m going to bed.