May
30th 2010
Time is swift and will be gone

Posted under: fluff, Gender, students, women's history

Random thoughts on attending my 20th college reunion this weekend:

  • Damn, but we look good!  What happened to the class of 1985?  Everyone else from 1980 on back looked great, too.  Why did nearly everyone in my class get a Ph.D. or become a physician?  Attorneys were present, but thin on the ground compared to the M.D.s and Ph.D.s 
  • The progression of age is gradual but clearly visible in 5-year increments when one attends reunions faithfully.  Most of us still stay in the dorm, but the complaints are getting louder and louder about the accommodations.  At the 15th reunion, people started schlepping their own special pillows from home.  By the 20th, it’s all “Did we really use these grungy bathrooms?  I can’t even turn around in this shower!  They haven’t changed the fixtures since 1982.  Why can’t they do something about this rusty pipe?”  And their music these days–its just noise!  The dorms are great for people with families, but I have a feeling that those who are on their own will be hitting the area hotels harder as of the 25th reunion.
  • The student helpers in our dorm were really sweet and enthusiastic–one was a recent grad whose nervousness and excitement about her future were charmingly apparent.  She told me she was glad to see that there are alumnae with happy lives and careers because her classmates are all so pessimistic about life after college now.   
  • People who had their stuff together in college have their stuff together now.
  • People who drank a lot in college still drink a lot at reunions, but they’re a lot of fun.  (That second bottle of wine on Friday night was nice, but as it turns out, unnecessary!)
  • Were there really all of these trees here?  (Or does it just seem especially leafy and insanely green and lush coming from Colorado?)
  • Weekend highlight:  there were several members of the class of 1940 there, who are all now in their 90s.  One of them stood up at an outdoor sing-a-long and sang a class song from her day about a girl who became a cocaine addict.  True.
  • I heard a horrible tenure denial story and an update on a horrible adjunct situation that never turned tenure-track from two classmates.  The only reason I’m tenured and they’re not is nothing but dumb luck.
  • A recent building renovation has razed the classroom where I had my first history class in college.  I remember distinctly that I impressed the professor in that class by having done the reading and being willing to discuss it.  (Imagine that!  I think I said something about the Carolingian empire being an “empire” in name only, with only a veneer of administrative control.  The professor was impressed enough to turn up his hearing aid when I raised my hand again.)  It was my formative experience as a historian, and I remember it now nearly 24 years later quite clearly.  I remember the smell of the trimmed boxwood shrub rising in the mid-September afternoon heat as I ran late into the classroom building.  Now it’s all gone–the boxwood shrub, the little garden outside that building, the old wooden steps, the polished brass stair rail, and the door fixtures built to look medieval in about 1928.
  • Tempus fugit, friends.  It is swift, and it will all be gone.  Make ye merry, while ye may, and all that.

11 Comments »

11 Responses to “Time is swift and will be gone”

  1. Notorious Ph.D. on 30 May 2010 at 9:31 pm #

    Wow. This actually makes me want to go to my 20th reunion when it comes up.

  2. Katherine on 31 May 2010 at 7:12 am #

    I went to my 25th reunion last summer and we had many of the same observations, especially about the dorms. I’m not sure how my back survived those beds–guess 25 years does a job on more than waist line. What I loved was that people I never talked to treated me like a long-lost friend, and how many of my classmates were doing interesting and worthwhile things. I found it quite encouraging to know they were out there.

  3. Comrade PhysioProf on 31 May 2010 at 11:08 am #

    I hope those student helpers at the dorm bought you old codgers some motherfucking cases of beer!

  4. Historiann on 31 May 2010 at 2:51 pm #

    Most of us had moved on from beer to mixed drinks and wine, but there was beer to be had. Liquor enhances nostalgia, which might enhance the opening of the checkbooks, so alumnae/i weekends are fairly soaked with opportunities for marination.

    Katherine–I don’t know if you’ve attended reunions before, but I’ve found all of my college reunions to be like you describe (even since the fifth reunion! I’m a total reunion junkie.) That’s why I keep going back–most people are so over themselves and they just want to reconnect with folks and hear what they’re doing and what they’re thinking about their lives. (I guess that’s why we go to reunions.) There’s very little bragging or pretense. In fact, there’s a kind of self-deprecation or modesty that people seem to bring with them, which is nice. Why try to preen or brag to people who know who you dated in college, or who remember what a dork/jerk/loser you were. I’m fortunate to have gone to school with people who truly have become much more interesting, kind, and worldly since age 18–so I assume that we’re all better women than where we started.

  5. Julia on 31 May 2010 at 10:41 pm #

    I’m just glad to know that you, too, were sometimes late to class. I remember being late to your classes quite a few times… sorry about that, Prof Historiann!

  6. Comrade PhysioProf on 01 Jun 2010 at 5:45 am #

    I was at homecoming one year at my old frat house for a luncheon, and asked for some beer. One of the little pissants told me they had no beer, and then five minutes later a couple other little pissants roll a full fucking keg across the room and out the back door.

    So I go, “Yo, fuckhead! That’s a whole fucking keg that your little pissant compatriots just rolled across the room and out the back door! What the fuck’s up with that?” And the little pissant goes, “Oh, that’s not for you alumni. That’s for our party tonight.”

    See if you can guess how much money I donated to the little pissants that year.

  7. Ignatz on 01 Jun 2010 at 8:48 am #

    At mine, some handsome guys from college looked even better now..mmm. In fact, most people looked better. My college-within-a-big-college catered to creative types, and people were either running alt radio stations or doing public interest stuff for a career. Impressive. And the college ponied up for some good wine.

  8. Prof. Koshary on 01 Jun 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    OMFG I know that dormitory!!

    …Ahem.

    Sorry, you stirred up my own undergrad memories there.

  9. Historiann on 01 Jun 2010 at 1:11 pm #

    I lived there too, freshman year. The bathrooms truly look the very same as the ones we all knew 23 and 24 years ago. My old room has been turned into a second-floor laundry! Tempus fugit, woman.

  10. Indyanna on 01 Jun 2010 at 7:58 pm #

    Pencils down! Like with the once-dreaded SATs, time is in limited supply, and as noted above, once they’re gone, they’re gone. Whether you just came back from your 5th or are waiting for your 25th, the reunions will stop coming when time all runs out–in *this* facility, anyway. However, if you do want to beat time at its own game, we have have a great battery of estate-planning tools and micro-naming opportunities available.

    Seriously, I went to a reunion a few years back somewhat deeper into the passage of time than the one Historiann reports on here. And at my class dinner, the biggest and most central table was captured–reserved, actually–by thirteen members of a frat that will remain nameless (o.k., Phi Delta Theta), who were as facile and smug and full of themselves as they were back when _Who’s Next_ was a new record. Until toasting time, that is, when they stood en-masse and blubberingly narrated the passing of the “missiong Phi,” the cool head who would have been in the fourteenth chair. In a Spanish jail, about two years after graduation. Something about a false drug trafficking charge and corrupt local constables. It went on and on. That’s another feature of this particular cultural practice. It goes from who’s still thin to thinning hair to the thinning of the herd. Although in the subject case it kind of got all out of order!

  11. Notes from the class of 1960, Dartmouth College : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 23 Jun 2010 at 1:15 pm #

    [...] of a fiftieth college reunion the author attended a few weeks ago.  (Some of you may remember that I posted a few thoughts on my twentieth reunion last month.)  I thought his observations about college then and now, and his concluding thoughts on the [...]

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