I am a Tufts University Jumbo. It’s not the toughest of mascots– especially when everyone in my house reveres the mighty Wolverine** – but we’ve still got our pride.
I recently relived some of my favorite memories at my college reunion. I’m not going to tell you how many years it’s been because it just makes me sound old and I don’t feel old. But spending 48 hours kidless, husbandless, and with a gaggle of gal pals on our old stomping grounds peeled off the years and made me realize age really doesn’t matter.
The weekend began with one of my besties, Julie, flying in from LA and sleeping at my house. We stayed up late gossiping and wondering who we might see– and who we’d like to avoid– at the reunion.
We got a quick hair blow out before we left—because a girl has to look her best if she’s going to see people she hasn’t seen in many, many years. Nobody needs to know I normally don’t wash my hair for days.
We met up with two other friends– Allison and Romy– and drove to Boston. The ride felt decadent. With four hours of uninterrupted time we caught up on each other’s work and families and had the luxury of follow-up questions and analysis. We also spent much of the ride quizzing each other on college factoids, hazy events, and random people we hadn’t thought about in years.
(Remember, I live with 4 males whose idea of scintillating conversation is NFL trades and baseball statistics, and maybe a fart joke now and then. A weekend with the girls is like an oasis.)
I love my college friends, but we aren’t the best at sticking to plans. Although a group of us live in the tri-state area, it’s rare that we can get a bunch together for a two-hour dinner in Manhattan. So I was delighted when 9 girls committed to this reunion weekend and showed up ready for carousing, reminiscing, and a graduate degree in belly laughs.
We had a fun dinner outside Friday night at Stephanie’s on Newbury Street in Boston. The nostalgia started to sink in as we sipped Scorpion Bowls that tasted much better than the grain alcohol punch we used to get at the Hong Kong in Cambridge back in the day. (There are some advantages to being a grown up.)
My friend Marjie met her husband, Scott, at Tufts (those two crazy kids are still gaga for each other) and many of Scott’s friends happened to be the guys we hung with since freshman year.
Scott and 8 of his frat buddies also stayed at the Loews in Boston for the weekend. When we got back from dinner, we took over an outdoor bar area with couches and twinkling lights and caught up on our lives.
We all flashed our phones around to show pictures of kids, spouses and even dogs. Our friend, Ricky, had wisely dug out a pile of old photos to pass around, sparking laughs and a flood of memories.
As much as I’d like to think I remember college like it was yesterday, I was surprised by how much I had forgotten. It was like we were collectively weaving a tapestry of those four years. Everyone remembered different events and people and we pieced them together like a giant puzzle. It was so much fun hearing the classic stories again, and being reminded of hilarious times that had been tucked in the way back of my mind.
Saturday we wandered around campus and met up with other alumni attending various events. We visited the fancy new library and tried to remember where we sat to study for finals.
We snuck into two dorms where we used to live (Houston and West Hall for inquiring Jumbos) and were shocked at how little they had been updated.
There was a graduation party at the house on Bellveue where many of my friends lived junior and senior year, but the residents graciously let us walk around. It was bizarre to be there again, and disgustingly dirty.
We had to make a stop at Espresso’s. Back in the day you could use your parents’ credit card and order food by phone to be delivered right to your dorm. Pizza, subs, and pints of Ben and Jerry’s, which we’d pass around in a circle until there was none left. Ah, the days of late-night, guilt-free eating.
We walked that beautiful quad, took pictures at the Jumbo statue in front of Packard Hall, and of course at the hallowed canon.
It’s a Tufts tradition to paint the canon late at night, but you have to make your mark really late or you run the risk of someone painting over it. Despite several tries, I think I did it successfully only once in my four years.
The only official school reunion activity we signed up for was a cocktail party Saturday night for our graduating class. Part of me wanted to be chatty, and part wanted to be a fly on the wall, throwing back cocktails and watching all the action without having to engage. I saw some people I hadn’t seen since graduation– including my freshman year roommate. That was a trip. I was mostly happy to see everyone I recognized, as many looked the same and still gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling despite all the years.
There were only a few people I would have liked to avoid, but even talking to them was amusing, because they annoyed me now for the same reasons they annoyed me then. Some things never change.
After about an hour at the party, our smaller group met up again at the Temple Bar in Cambridge and laughed and talked for hours into the night.
Just like the old days, the boys powered through any exhaustion for a late night visit to the original Hong Kong in Harvard Square for scorpion bowls… and the girls went home, got into jammies and talked til we started to fall asleep. There was still so much more to say and no one wanted the weekend to be over.
Most people left Sunday morning but a few of us stayed for breakfast and a little shopping on Newbury Street. I certainly wanted to stretch the weekend out as long as possible.
We hit terrible traffic on the way home and even got a flat tire that stalled our trip for a few extra hours. But no one complained. We were savoring the time to chat and be together. We weren’t eager to get back to the reality of work, carpools, sick kids, messy houses, cooking dinner and husbands who had earned a break.
Spending a relaxing 48 hours together evoked deep affection for my old college gang. I shared so many significant moments with some of these people, and we literally watched each other grow and mature into adults. We spent time with each other’s families, traveled all over the U.S and Europe, and struggled through terrible first jobs and apartments in the lean post-college years.
We have history.
I wish it wasn’t so hard to get everyone in the same place at the same time but that’s where we are in our lives and that’s what made the reunion so special. It was a weekend we proud Jumbos will never forget.
**You may remember, Wilson is an avid (read insane) alumnus of the University of Michigan who suffers from school spiritititus, when watching all sports gives you a fever until you bleed maize and blue. (For the lowdown on his reunion weekend click here.)