This weekend, I’m back in Harrisonburg, Virginia, for Homecoming weekend at my alma mater, Eastern Mennonite University. In fact, I am writing this courtesy of the as-yet-not login-required computers in the university library.
Except for the addition of a few more computers, and a small DVD collection where the reference books used to live, the library looks much like it did when I was a student here ten years ago. I think the chairs might be new. They’re more comfortable than I remember.
Not that I remember many details of my college years. That’s the problem I’ve been noticing as I wander around, wondering if the person walking past me was a classmate or if they just look like someone I know. Even the people I’ve met who remember me are fuzzy in my mind. How did I know them then? Did we have a class together? Did we have mutual friends?
I’ve kept in touch with many of my college friends, but we were a small class, so I was acquaintances with most of the rest of them, or at the very least, I knew their name and what they looked like. And, I interacted with students in the other classes which came before and after me. All of this makes it difficult for me to remember just how I knew the people I am reconnecting with now.
In addition to all that, I’ve changed since college. Physically, I’ve put on a great deal of weight, I wear glasses, and my hair is much shorter. Socially, I’m more adept and personable (I think), and I’m less rigid in insisting that my views/philosophies are the only right ones.
I may not remember my old classmates in great detail, but I can’t assume they have as fuzzy memories of me. How do I convey who I am now when the ghost of who I was then still lingers?
Why do I feel that is important? It’s not as though we are a part of each other’s lives anymore and I need their acceptance in order to survive socially. I have gone on for 10 years without them, thankyouverymuch, and I can go on another 10 just the same. However, there is a part of me that craves acceptance, and no matter how much I grow stronger in myself, I still want everyone to like me.
I hope I’ll have gotten over this by our 20 year reunion, but for now, I should head over to the soccer game and see who’s there. Maybe if I show some school spirit it’ll make me seem more like one of them.
3 thoughts on “memory, reunions, and being yourself”
Hey, friend, some of us have very fond memories of you in college! Though you may have thought yourself rigid, I always appreciated that you accepted me, quirks and all… and we didn’t always agree on things. And I wasn’t always the friend I should/could have been.
I do identify with your feelings about the shadow of yourself from the past. My sister and I were just talking about that this weekend, while we were down in VA at Dad’s place. We are struggling to find a way to relate to each other as adults now… we’re both very different people than we were when we were kids, but somehow, though we know that about ourselves, we can’t allow the other out of the “box” we had put them in years and years ago (the overbearing older sister, the tempermental younger sister). Ugh. It’s hard. I admire your transparency here. And I hope you know how much I have appreciated your friendship over the years. You’re a wonderful woman, truly.
Thanks, KAS! We’re never the friends we think we should be. I appreciated the time we spent together, regardless.
Anna, this was wonderful. I’ve had similar feelings recently after discovering Facebook, and realizing that on some stupid level, I *still* feel bad when Marco Lowe doesn’t laugh at my jokes, even after (gulp) twenty years. I also have to confess to a little rush of glee when I realized that if four certain young women from the NTHS symphonic band attempt to befriend me, I can ignore them with one click, which is way easier than ignoring them when they’re hanging over the backs of their chairs to whisper to each other, glancing at me and tittering.
I had to laugh (albeit a little ruefully) at the school spirit comment … that somehow hit the nail right on the head.
Great, now I have a Veggie Tales song stuck in my head: “I can be your friiiieeend, I can be your friiiieeend, if your hair is red or yellow, we can be friends, I’ll share my Jello!” ((((hugs)))))
(I’m not on Yahoo right now, by the way, but the email I used here is one I check fairly regularly.)