Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Come Now To the Campus...

Come now to the campus, true sons of Geneva,
In one accord in song your voices raise.
Proclaim loud the glory, those walls old and hory,
The college where I spent such happy days.

This weekend was my 25th college reunion at Geneva College in beautiful Beaver Falls, PA. Home of Joe Namath and the steak salad. TWENTY FIVE YEARS have passed since I was in college, and yet, those were and continue to be some of the best days of my life, and the source of some of my fondest memories.

These ladies. Riley on the left, Jean in the middle, me on the right. One was a roommate at one time, the other was a suitemate. People I laughed with, cried with, yelled at stupid boyfriends for. You know, the stuff friends do.

This is a crappy picture, taken with my phone inside a badly lit theater, but I would know this person in the pitch black dark. She was also a roommate at one time, but more than that, a soul sister. We have not been the best at keeping up with each other over the last 15 years, but during college, we were the best of friends. Her family became a family away from home for me. Her father was a professor at the college, and now in retirement her parents own a B&B at which we stayed this weekend. Her father didn't recognize me at first, since 15 years have passed since last we met, and time has a way of robbing all of us of health and memory, but when I said my name, he said "Oh my goodness, Michele. I look in your eyes and I know exactly who you are."

The McCartney Library on campus is small, but is home to two sets of incredible and impressive stained glass windows. I already loved libraries when I arrived on campus, this one just sealed the deal with these windows.

Then there is the Bagpiper Theater. The first week of the first semester I was on campus, my friend Jean said she was going up to audition for the first play of the semester. It was traditionally a freshman only production, to allow new students the chance at performing without having to compete for parts against the seasoned upperclassman. I had not acted before, officially that is, and was hesitant. But then I said why not. No one really knew me there. I wasn't competing against people from high school that were well known to the theater, I was just little old unknown me. So I went.

From the moment I stood on that stage and heard people laughing in response to my audition, and laughing in the "dear lord in heaven she is funny" way, not the "dear lord in heaven get her off the stage" way, I knew I had found my people and my happy place. For four years I worked on productions in this theater, from acting, to costuming, stage managing and even directing a one act play as part of my theater class final.

It is 100 seats big, so you can see pretty much everyone who is there to watch the show. They are almost as much a part of a production as the actors themselves. It is not an easy theater to work in. You had to find ways to work with the space limitations and the proximity of the audience. But it is worth it.

This present day me, in a mirror in a dressing room that has not changed in 30 years. It looks exactly the same as the day I first walked into it.

This piece of furniture used to live in the lobby of my residence hall, McKee Hall, shown below.

It also used to be Pepto Bismal pink. And under the pink was an odd shade of Wedgewood blue. A travesty had been committed, one that I and my fellow castmates of I Remember Mama decided to rectify, by stripping and refinishing it. We had no idea what we were doing, and yet managed not to completely destroy the burled walnut panels. Yay us! It is now in the Hallway of History.

There are many ways in which I have evolved and changed from the person I was back in 1982 when I first arrived on that campus beside the Beaver Vale. I am different spiritually, emotionally, and certainly physically. I arrived on campus weighing a whopping 105lbs. I remember that because they would not let me give blood. Yeaaaahhhh, that was a long time ago.

BUT! Without a doubt it was a formative, magical, challenging, and educational time. It was exactly what going to college should be. It was a safe place for me to discover who I was, who I wanted to be, and provide a solid basis to launch from into the rest of my life. I found lifelong friendships, both within my fellow students but also within the faculty. I may not always agree with the religious views and philosophy of the Reformed Presbyterian faith, but I am and will be forever grateful for that time and that community. GO TORNADOS!

Turbo, 2011

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