Last weekend I visted old friends at my former university for sort of a fraternal get together. Brothers and sisters bonded under the three Greek letters CHI IOTA SIGMA came together to celebrate over 10 years of being part of what this university affectionately calls “social clubs.” I was telling someone while I was there that reunions like this are different than those of a class reunion in high school (or even college). What I found different (and even more enjoyable) is the fact that, unlike a class reunion which is usually only representative of one specific year in a persons life, this gathering brought with it faces before, during and after my time. I had seen how some things changed (faces, names, and even a few traditions), others didn’t (inside jokes and borderline inappropriate behavior still got a good laugh). I look at this diverse social palette and see much of my life that is represented in several others, as well as seeing the future of this club staring at me, telling me with a smiling face how great it’s been to be a part of. I saw the familiar faces of my pledge class there with their spouses and children, hearing how some had become exactly what they set out to do, and others opted for other occupational/life changes (one specifically prompted by a rigorous car cleaning several years after she graduated that led her to an unlikely job with the government). This reunion brought with it obvious flashbacks to my days in college and walking up the steps to my old student center, I couldn’t help but reflect for a moment the years I spent here, thinking that what I was learning was all there was to life, that college would make me exactly who I am today. I guess that’s true, in part, and though so much more of my story is continued in later post-college chapters, the four year story, accented with my involvement with XIS, brings just as much with it.
As part of this get together, an hour away from my home, I opted to stay local instead of driving back and forth. I guess, in truth, I just really like mid-grade hotels, and this was a great excuse to stay in one. I remember going on vacations, my brother and I would sit in the still-running car with my mom while my dad went and ‘took care of everything’ inside the lobby. It was so fascinating to me. I always wondered why it took so long (at least it felt like that to me) to get us ready move into our home away from home. As an adult, I kind of feel privileged to be able to walk into a curbside overnight spot and say “Yes I have a reservation” and do all of the things that make it official from giving my drivers license to filling out the little card, to getting my electronic key (although I miss the old school keys that would seem to get lost so much more often than these). The anticipation I got when we’d park the car and then walk up to our room with our boatload of luggage came back, and even after all of these years the hotel rooms still smell the same when you initially walk in, cold from the still running air conditioning, the halfway hard but smooth bed and sheets that you crash on immediately after putting your stuff down because its been such a long drive, and the Gideon bible being discretely placed in the drawer of the bedside table. Of course, hotels these days, even cheaper venues like the one I stayed in, have significantly upgraded. I took advantage of the high speed Internet, the microwave and refrigerator. I was even called by the front desk to make sure everything was in order. But of course I found comfort in using those things that were a part of my experiences growing up, including using the still-square plastic bucket at the never-ending ice machine (which still looks the same after so many years).
I felt a bit like I was stepping out of Narnia in coming back from that experience. It felt as though time had frozen for just over 24 hours and I got to relive experientially as well as mentally those days of both my youth and young adulthood, and while I enjoyed every moment of that time with friends old and new, I felt the reality of where my life is now settle itself back in as I drove steadily back home to life as I now know it.