Monday, June 8, 2015

There is No Charge for Awesomeness - Wellesley College, MA

The incredibly cool Science Center, the location of our Saturday night party
I have never been so hungover. Ever. Unfortunately there is no cure (at least for the next five years) since it was neither alcohol nor drug induced. It was Wellesley Class of 1990 induced. 25th Reunion induced. Gorgeous campus and fantastic women of all ages induced. I think you've got it. 

Or not. I will say that if you are not a Wellesley alum, you may find yourself confused by the following post. I have a feeling that no other school anywhere does reunion like we do. I do not have enough time or database space to completely explain about its awesomeness but I will try to convey at least part of the joy.

Reunion started at 1 pm on Friday and went through lunch on Sunday. It's not long enough, yet if it went any longer, we would collapse into a gigantic pile of purple goo. Why purple? Because we are the purple class (class colors are red, yellow, green and purple). I note that over the years we have gotten a lot more purple--while I own little purple in my wardrobe (augmented more recently by the very purple Northwestern University gear which my MBA provided). I had to run out for some purple eyeshadow at least. 

A friend demonstrates how to wear purple nail polish while clutching a purple drink (it is not grape juice, hence the anonymity ;) )
My roomie and I stopped into Severance (hilariously misquoted as "Severus" by one of my sons, who was pretty sure I had graduated from Hogwarts when he saw the castle-like appearance of the Tower Court complex). Purple abounded. Purple chocolate kisses, sugar pops, banners, ribbons, people. A front desk wo-manned by fabulous current students of Wellesley who blinked not an eye as we smooshed our friends in giant bear hugs, met new friends, and generally wreaked havoc. We were handed our purple capes which would be our class insignia for the Alumnae Parade on Sunday. A more appropriate insignia was never created...sheros. She-heroes. Caped crusaders.

Disclaimer: this image has been adapted by unnamed sister alums just for fun, and not for sale.

Yes, I did meet new friends in our class. It turns out that a 650-person graduating class is quite large. I was Econ/Poli Sci, and if you were botany or say, art history, you and I never crossed paths. Yes, I did get through my science requirement by Baby Chem (I learned to diagram Diet Coke's chemical formula), Geology (Rocks for Jocks, of course) and my crew friend Isleen and I slept through many an Oceanology class, which had the misfortune of closely following our morning row on the Charles. The movie on pillow lava exploding during one great nap pretty much scared the beejees out of us. By the way, oceanography is NOT boring--I loved that class.

So, yes, new people. One new person sat next to me in the class meeting at 9 am on Saturday wearing kitty-cat pajamas that I quite admired. One I discovered lives one town away from me in Sudbury. Then I ran into a couple of friends from my living-in-California days (SF 1990-1995) who are still living there--one I remember best for saying "just because we all went to the same college doesn't mean we all have to be friends." This was said after the 18 of us from the class of 90 who had moved there after graduation had had get-together number 4000 and maybe it was time for us to make new friends. 

But guess what? I think we are all friends because we went to the same college. I have girl crushes (is it still politically correct to say that?) on a vast quantity of these women. They are simply awesome and they don't charge for it. There was no charge for a crew friend who was canoeing on the lake on Saturday to rescue another friend whose pedal boat had putted to a stop in the middle of Lake Waban. 

Photo credit:Emily Christmann, Note, that is our class insignia cape
There was no charge for singing and chanting and laughing over memories. There was no charge for a memorial service that brought a number of us to tears for the eight classmates we have lost.

One of the best traditions at Wellesley College is step-singing. Normally held several times during the school year, it is usually on the steps of the Chapel where people line up with their classes. For Reunion, we are all inside of the Chapel to allow for more seating, better acoustics and no dependence on weather. My only complaint would be the college never allows for the size of 1990. I think we have broken participation records every year we have had a reunion. 

Songbook at the Chapel

One of our cheers
Because we are the 25th Reunion class, our songmistress was the overall songmistress for stepsinging. She led the gathered alums through America the Beautiful (written by a Wellesley). We sing what we believe to be the original and appropriate lyrics of "and crown thy hood with sisterhood" and you'll want to put in earplugs for the part we get to "purple mountains majesty" because we will blow your eardrums out shouting "purple." Songs are interrupted by chants from each of the classes -- our standby is "we are high and we are mighty, we're the class of 1990!" and yes, we have some new ones in 25 years.

My favorite from Stepsinging continues to be the Wellesley Composite, sung to the tune of Funiculi, Funicula "Some think it worth their time to go to college, And so do I...some think that only men are fit for knowledge, but not so I , Oh no, not I..." Lyrics were adapted in 1901. Old alum kick ass. So do new alum but imagine the scene at the turn of the century singing that song... I'm going to get back to the old alum topic in a minute.

Where roomie and I studied in the libary

The recently renovated boathouse. Photo credit: Heather Stratton Williams
Earlier on Friday, my roomie and I hiked the campus. The Wellesley campus must be the most beautiful in the world. Before you argue with me, just forget it. We win. Roomie and I busted into our first year dorm which was once the stables. We found signs of habitation in numerous unmade beds but no actual humans. Weirdly a shower turned off but there was no one there. Spooky. A ghost of a former resident goat perhaps. Then we busted into our old sophomore dorm room where we woke up a sleeping student who was pretty confused by us. Shortly thereafter we heard sirens and exited stage left in case Cam-Po (campus police) had been called.

View of a former parking lot, now meadow - photo Heather Stratton Williams

 We were unremorseful though and headed over to Cazenove (where do we get the names of our dorms?) where we busted into our old singles, where we found signs of 1975 alums in the guise of their suitcases. We were almost discovered at the bell desk since we were wearing purple and they were a green class. Finally we stopped into senior dorm Shafer where we definitely were busted by an older alum as we shut the door on the turret rooms. Ah well. No trips to the Cam-Po clink. 

As we headed over to the academic quad, we ran into Winnie. Winnie, class of 1950, was lost and trying to find a lecture on Shakespeare in Green Hall (they ran shortened classes all weekend long, I only made it to one on the Saturn mission--no charge for that awesomeness either). Winnie was, if you pardon my language, a pistol. She had a cane but would not use it on the stairs. As we walked her to where she needed to go, she cared not that she was a half hour late, and told us about her great-great-niece who had graduated from Wellesley a week before. Winnie is 86 years old. No charge for her awesomeness.

Saturday night was the class party and what happens at the class party stays at the class party. I dressed up as an 80s Billy Idol groupie, and others also followed the 80s theme, or wore a lot more purple that I own. We danced for hours to music rolled by an extremely talkative DJ, who sounded roughly like the folks on the loudspeaker on a NY city subway "wah, wah, wah wah...blah". The Science Center, where the party is held, is criss-crossed with bridges two stories above the open atrium. People lined up and danced and revved up the crowd. So. Much. Fun. 

Photo credit:Cassie Chao
Now I could go on and on and on and on, but I think I already have. Before I close out by saying that our Reunion Committee and volunteers are on a level of awesomeness that there SHOULD be a charge for, I must talk about Alumnae Parade. Alumae Parade makes me tear up every single time. All the classes who are "reuning" line up along college drive. The youngest class (in this case 2010) is closest to Alumnae Hall, the destination of the parade, and the oldest classes are at the other end of the campus. We line the route waiting, waiting until finally you see and hear the sirens of the campus police leading the parade. 

Photo credit to one of my classmates

First through the lined route were four alumnae from the class of 1940. These women are 96 years old. They were driven in old Fort Model Ts, in the rumble seats of some other old car, they wore hats, they waved, they smiled. They made me smile. And get a little misty for the fact that the parade started with 1940--when five years ago, it started with 1935... 

Photo credit: Kimberly Bolin
Next came 1945. Some drove, but some walked. Yes, at least six 1945 alums (91 years old more or less) walked the entire route with a banner, waving and smiling. Some followed in cars driven behind. 

1965 can-cans up the street. Photo credit: Michelle Lesowski
Then 1950 (I did not see Winnie, I hope she did not get lost or late to the parade), 1955, 1960, all greeted by cheers of the younger alums. 1965 did a can-can up the street. I kid you not at all. They chanted their chants, we chanted ours...we cheered louder for any purple classes.

And then it was our turn. We headed up the route through the classes of 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010. And they cheered us. And we waved and smiled. 

See you in five, she-roes. Crusade on!

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