I haven’t been shy about the love affair I have with my alma mater. In fact I adore it so much that I finagled my way onto the National Alumni Board over the summer. This from a girl who spent the first thirteen years of her education at the same school but never once thought of running for class office.
So last weekend all of us board members were flown into Chicago for Alumni Weekend. I was very excited and ready to proudly represent my school as an ambassador. I even thought that perhaps I could impart my “real world” wisdom to new alums in need of guidance and support.
Then I regressed back into college mode.
First, the living arrangements. I was going to be sharing a hotel room with one of my good friends. It was totally awesome. Just like being in a dorm again. We talked. We laughed. We watched Mr. Mom and ate Ben & Jerry’s. The only thing that had really changed this time was that someone else was making my bed each morning and I didn’t have to wear flip-flops while taking a shower.
Second, the bad eating habits. If I wasn’t in class during college, you could most likely find me at Taco Bell or McDonald’s. Sadly I’ve never had a fast metabolism and weighed a good thirty pounds more than I do now. Though I have since become smarter about my meal choices, all that went out the window the moment I was back on campus. Both fruit and pastries were offered during our first breakfast meeting; I completely ignored the berries and melon and grabbed two cheese danishes instead. At lunch I had maybe one bite of my apple but made sure my bag of potato chips was completely finished off. In fact, ninety percent of what I ate over the weekend consisted of very tasty but very bad for you carbohydrates like coffee cake, pasta, French fries, hash browns and grits. No wonder my pants have been feeling snug all week.
Third, the late nights and early mornings. For the record, I’m a champion sleeper. I can doze off at 8pm and still sleep in until noon the next day. Though given my roommate situation, most evenings were spent chatting for hours on end before finally passing out from exhaustion. And forget sleeping in until noon. We were expected on campus at 8am both Friday and Saturday. One of those early morning dates was with a 5K run around the lake. Did I mention that it was raining most of the weekend? I had forgotten that Chicagoans don’t pay much attention to inclement weather. I doubt they even consider rain in that category at all. Needless to say, the run was not cancelled. Yet the exhilaration of racing past Soldier Field as a rainbow gleamed overhead was well worth my soaked-to-the-bone attire. It also guaranteed that I would stay bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the rest of the day despite sleep deprivation. P.S. I naively allowed myself to believe that rainbow signaled a win for my beloved Bears against the Packers the next day. Stupid rainbow.
Fourth, the awesome friendships. I must admit that I was a tad nervous to meet my fellow board members. Relatively speaking I was a newbie; many of my peers had been active alumni members for years. It was just like the first day of class all over again. My stomach was swimming with anxiety and excitement. Of course everyone was great and after just a few hours it felt like I had known them for years. Once it was time to fly back to LA, I knew I had made life-long friendships with some really amazing people. If I had more time, I would have made everyone a mixed CD.
Lastly, the excitement that you just might be doing something worthwhile with your life. At the risk of sounding like Pollyanna, I really loved this weekend because it felt like I was part of something bigger than myself. I can remember experiencing the same thrill after watching a really amazing movie in class and imagining someday I would make a film that could have the same effect on others. Though it went by much too fast, last weekend restored my faith that everyone can make a difference. We still have a long way to go, but just like that first day of school, you have to start somewhere.
There was only one thing that truly bummed me out about last weekend… Not once did I get carded. I may still feel like a college student at times, but apparently I no longer look like one.