According to the new-ish President of the College, Dartmouth alums are different because we cry when we sing the Alma Mater. I am not a sentimental type about my college years and it is hard to cry when part of a verse talks about having rocks in our brains (see below).
Dear old Dartmouth, give a rouse, For the College on the hill,
For the Lone Pine above her, And the loyal ones who love her [words omitted]
Though ‘round the girdled Earth they roam, Her spell on them remains.
They have the still North in their hearts, The hill winds in their veins,
And the granite of New Hampshire In their muscles and their brains.
Crazy, right? I cried like a baby.
It was good to be back on the Hanover Plain. The campus is just beautiful and being in an environment with undergraduates reminded me of the gift of learning. In the midst of this beauty with a diverse undergraduate body of scholar-athlete-artists, it can be hard to remember how racist and misogynist the campus was in the early 80s, but that, too, must be acknowledged.
And, that, and for a group of friends, who have known each other for 29 years, we celebrated our years there, and also 25 years of life since then and the friendship bonds that have sustained us.
I think what makes us unique is how we celebrated.
- First, we talked about deal breakers for new relationships (some of us are not married; and we also talked about when we are — G-d forbid — widowed). One mentioned that her much older aunt was seeing this man who was terrific in every way (wait, he was really cheap – so not every way) but when they were both in the airport traveling east to see family, she said, “Watch my bags, I am going to the restroom” and his response was, “Oh, I don’t bother; I wear Depends”. Thereafter, ensued a spirited conversation about medical versus recreational use of adult diapers as a bright line deal breaker. [Blogger comment: we are 45 but we like to be ready for big life decisions so we start thinking about these things ahead. Also, many of us after childbirth cannot sneeze without worrying about leakage.]
- Second, we got teary-eyed about the meaning of our friendships and how we are each other’s go-to people in a crisis. We laughed, we cried, we hugged and we clasped hands and celebrated being together. [Blogger: some random people tried to break into these deep moments and change the mood and we wouldn’t let them.]
- Third, some of us played beer pong until 4:30am just like in college. Others of us, not so much. [Blogger comment: Of course, everyone was tired because college beds and prison beds are not that dissimilar.]
- Fourth, we really played it to the bone. We were direct with each other and with our other classmates. One asked another, “are we supposed to be ok with your drinking this weekend?” Another said to a surprise attendee, “You really need to apologize for [disappearing without a word for 23 years after his best friend asked him to be his best man].” [Blogger comment: This was not for the faint of heart. We asked and wanted answers.]
- Fifth, we were each other’s memory-recall buttons and coaches. One of our number kept asking us, “did I have a fling with that guy?” and we did our best to keep the record straight. Another gave us a real teachable moment when, being introduced to someone, she said, “Nice to meet you” and he said in a slightly hurt (possibly belligerent) way, “we know each other”. Then the friend remember the fling that happened more than a quarter-century ago. The resulting advice was to say, “good to see you” to everyone and anyone. [Blogger comment: This is in addition to the old standby, “Good for you!” Really, good, GOOD, for you!”.]
Next blog entry will be the crazy things that happened while we were there.