Weeks leading up to the event, I couldn't decide how much I wanted to participate. Would Selim want to come, or would I be flying solo? It wasn't until mid week that Selim told me he did not want to go. Then there was a death close to Nedim late in the week that made me certain that I could not take the whole weekend away. I would make the most of Saturday.
In that spirit, I hit the road at 5:15am on Saturday. I drove through heavy rain from Methuen, MA to the I-90 / I-84 split. But then the clouds lifted and the sun came out in full force. I arrived on campus in plenty of time to find a parking space and eat my fruit and yogurt. Walking down the hill from MacGregor, past the greenhouse and around the corner to the stairs by the art building -- memories flooded in. How many time did I walk up those stairs to go to class?
I felt nervous as I approached the parade gathering in front of Blanchard. In school, often I was on the periphery. I had a few close friends, but I wasn't part of a big social circle. I kept myself more at the edges of things and wasn't a big joiner. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I walked towards our class meeting place. But the nervous feelings melted away with the first hug. And there we were, wearing our white outfits with the green pashminas, and so happy to see each other.
|Sarah, Michelle, KQ, Lisa, Ann, Yanti, Pam, and Stacie|
|Margo and Sue|
|Jake and I|
|Sophie and PJ holding up our banner|
The Laurel Parade began at 9:00. I'd never really gotten the parade before. I mean, what is up with everybody wearing white? But this time, the whole thing gave me chills. Everybody looked beautiful wearing white, accented with the class color. The center of campus was lined with friends and family and everybody was cheering and clapping as we walked by.
|Who knew we had a mascot?|
When we got to Mary Lyon's grave, we parted and lined the route so that we flanked the class of 2014 as they walked by with the laurel chains. Bagpipes played as the seniors moved around the grave and passed the laurel chains. There were brief remarks (including the background for us wearing white, to honor the suffragettes) and then they sang "Bread and Roses."
Looking at the seniors in their white garb, and then all the alums in white and feeling the solidarity of educated women was powerful, humbling, and inspiring all at the same time. I was really moved.
After the parade, Jake and I with Sophie and PJ in tow, went to Blanchard for refreshments. I asked Sophie if I could take a picture of our feet. She had on sparkling pink sneakers and I had painted my toes green for the occasion. She agreed.
Then we went out and sat on the edge of the fire pit and caught up. Sophie was content to pick dandelions and PJ went back and forth between the adults and his sister.
Soon it was time for our class picture and lunch. I opted not to have the regular picnic fare. Instead, I visited for a while and then left the group and went to take pictures. The library had just gotten a Chihuly sculpture that is amazing. It reminded me of seaweed. It is beautiful and gives such light to the entryway.
The architecture of the reading room drew me in as well.
I took selfies in front of the main gate.
Then I went to Dwight to see the exhibit of parade dresses.
I looked at my watch and realized that I needed to pick up the pace if I was going to catch any of the Alum vs student rugby game. There were four class of 89 women in the game. I sat on the sidelines and had learned that a classmate lives in Ashville, NC and knew some of the Sant Bani group that has moved down to that area. What a small world.
After the game I walked back to MacGregor and rested in the coolness of the common room. Then classmates started coming in before the 5:00 class meeting. I knew I needed to leave, but it was hard to find the motivation to get up and out to my car. I ended up staying for the meeting, but left before the drinking in earnest began.
All in all it was the sweetest day. These are lasting friendships. And even though I might have been on the periphery while in school, I feel better connected now, 25 years out.