Tuesday, June 07, 2011


                                  Rose Castorini: Cosmo, I just want you to know no matter what you do,
                                                                           you're gonna die, just like everybody else.
                                            Cosmo Castorini: Thank you, Rose.
                                                                                                                  ~ Moonstruck

As expected, the reunion was phenomenal.  I had an amazing, if exhausting, time catching up with old friends, having fun, dancing, staying out until 2:30 in the morning.  It was incredible to see people that I knew so well and spent so much time so many years ago, and to learn what they had been doing for 20 years.  They're so successful - doctors, lawyers, hedge fund managers, business owners, parents to beautiful and accomplished children.  It was impressive and a little bit awe-inspiring.
But mostly it was just fun.  It made me so happy.
Of course, being me, I can't get out of my own head and just enjoy myself.  I was all obsessed all weekend (and beyond) with thinking about memories.  The role memories play in making a person who they are.  Whether the loss of certain specific memories with the passage of times diminishes the impact of the experience being remembered.  Whether with the loss of certain memories, you lose parts of yourself.

Friday was a whirlwind.  I dropped the kids at daycare, went to the airport, caught my flight to DC, my dad picked me up, we went to my parents' house, I took one of my mom's cars, drove the 2 1/2 hours to Charlottesville, checked in at Alumni Hall, went to my hotel, checked into my room, changed my clothes and ran up the street to the big Class of '91 welcome dinner.  I immediately ran into a bunch of friends, with whom I ended up spending the bulk of the weekend, and we ate and drank and shmoozed and then went to hear a band and ran into some more people.  We ended up at the Corner at a bar that I have closed down probably a hundred times (at least).  After last call, a bunch of guys that I used to hang out with invited me back to their old fraternity house to drink and catch up some more, but it was already 2:30 in the morning and I was already a little drunk and a lot exhausted, so I went back to my hotel room and crashed.

The next morning, after grabbing some breakfast and hanging out and shooting the shit with some friends, I had some time to kill before meeting a group of sorority sisters for lunch.  So I went for a walk around Grounds.

I walked up past the Rotunda, in front of which my class's dinner had been held the night before. 

If you look closely, at the top of the stairs you can see the tables and chairs from the previous night's dinner.
I walked around the front and then cut in to walk on the Lawn. 

It was a beautiful day and a beautiful scene.  Many people had brought their families with them to the reunion, and there were kids running around and people chatting and picnicking and enjoying the day.  I continued across the Lawn and walked down inside the colonnade on the east side. 

Further down, I doubled back across the Lawn and walked past the amphitheater.

Setting up for that evening's dinner and band party.
I walked down Monroe Hill and then wound my way behind Newcombe Hall and up to the quad bounded by the libraries before heading past the chapel, back toward the Rotunda and down to the Corner again to meet my friends.

What a breathtakingly beautiful building.

As I walked, I was thinking, "I have walked this route hundreds and hundreds of times. Every day, multiple times, back and forth to class, to see friends, to parties."  I was also struck by the incredible beauty of the place -- the architecture, the greenery.  And as much as the place is such a huge part of me, it feels like I was there a million years ago.  Or yesterday.

As I passed the Rotunda, the chapel bells began to play the Good Ol' Song (the tune of Auld Lang Syne).  It was surreal.  Like having pieces of my DNA brought to the surface of my body.

I felt like the reunion, and really, my efforts to hold on to memories generally, was an exercise in rebuilding a wall.  As the years pass, little memory bits, like old pieces of brick or mortar, fall away, and we make concerted efforts to reconnect with old friends at reunions and through Facebook and whatnot as a way of finding those fallen pieces and putting them back in their place.  We try to hold on to those memories so tightly, as if by holding on to them, we can go back in time. Or stop aging.

But then the weekend ends and we go back to our lives.  The grey hairs and wrinkles keep appearing.

Toward the end of Saturday night, after laughing and having a great dinner and dancing to two bands, we headed back across the Lawn on our way to find a bar that was still open.  It was a beautiful warm night, with enough humidity to make the air feel soft and enveloping.

We saw a group of people streaking the Lawn, carrying on a time-honored tradition.  So that was awesome.  And then we saw the Rotunda itself, which was lit up and looking as beautiful as I've ever seen it.  My friend Bob grabbed my camera and told me to pose for a picture, and I was feeling so happy that I just threw my arms in the air and my head back and laughed.

The nametag doesn't really go with the dress.
That was my magical weekend. 

And then it was over. 

Another memory to try to hang on to for dear life.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you got to experience it - everyone needs one of these weekends every now and again! The pictures are wonderful, and that'll help with the memories, for sure. Which is why I take pictures of damn near everything.