Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Sort of Homecoming

Every October my alma mater, like other institutions of higher learning, welcomes its graduates back to campus. It's a time for meeting up with friends from one's college days, seeing how the school has changed, watching a football game, and recapturing a little of the spirit from a period in time that many people describe as the best years of their lives.

As I sat in the press box keeping stats for the homecoming game, I listened to other people talk about how great their time in college was and how much they missed it, especially in the first few years after commencement.

While I enjoyed my time in college, I'd like to believe that better days are ahead, that the most exciting time in life doesn't come to a screeching halt at 21 or 22. Of course, one could say that I don't have much room to talk because, in a sense, I never left. Until I moved two years ago, I lived within a block of campus and have been working there in a part-time or full-time capacity since graduating.

Granted, that was never the plan. I picked up some extra money keeping official statistics for football and basketball while doing forty hours per week of temp work during my job searches and non-searches. Being around led to some part-time work where I would eventually become employed full-time.

In one capacity or another I've worked during homecoming and have attended it every year since I finished school. For me it hasn't been a big deal--I see this place practically every day--so it hasn't meant much to me. I've watched how the campus has transformed and don't feel a need to wander around. Thus I don't usually bump into any old classmates unless they let me know in advance that they're coming.

This afternoon, as my alma mater made an impressive comeback to win the game and remain undefeated, I did feel a sense of the old school pride as the seconds ticked off the scoreboard andas I hoofed it across the damp, leaf-strewn lawns to my car. (All those visiting alumni kept me from parking by the stadium.)

I enjoy the energy, curiosity, and camaraderie that the academic environment can provide unlike anywhere else, and I understand why people wistfully recall their time in such a place. I may miss out on the nostalgic rush that comes form returning to my stomping grounds after years away, but getting a little bit of that every day at work isn't such a bad trade-off.

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