I’m just going to start out right now and say it.
Friends, I’ve got some BIG FEELS. My heart is all huge and FULL because last weekend, I was with some of the best people ever.
People who I met twenty-four years ago. People who met this brown haired, BIG bushy eyebrowed girl from New Sharon as she was beginning her freshmen year at Central College. People who took her in and accepted her. Together, we’d build a bond that would run so deep that twenty year after graduating, we’d still be able to pick up where we all left off, like we Never. Missed. A. Beat.
I went back to Central College last weekend for Homecoming. I don’t make it back every year, but this year I was IN. No way was I going to miss celebrating our 20th year reunion with other fellow classmates from the class of 1995. And I’ll just start out by saying…we are like wine. Or cheese. We just get better with age. Really.
So many people from the glorious class of 1995 made it back. And boy, did we show up. There was somewhere between 55-75 of us ’95ers. I think having a Facebook page for this event made it so successful. For weeks, we were posting on that page and getting one another ramped up for the weekend’s festivities.
Friday evening, with a full car (I may have overpacked…six outfits and five pairs of shoes. Okay, so I had a hard time deciding what to wear…some things never change. #indecisive), the boys and I went to my parents. They live about 40 minutes from Pella, where I’d be traveling to Saturday morning. Hubby texted us from his elk hunt in Colorado and I shared with him how I wished he was going to Homecoming, too. Being Central grads, we have so many mutual friends and he would have loved catching up with everyone, as well.
Saturday morning, I drove to Pella to meet a group at The Brew, a coffee house that was not there 20 years ago. I was slightly nervous because I was going by myself, but as soon as I saw Kristy and others, I was greeted with a big hug. Fears and nervousness diminished instantly. We caught up on where everyone was, kids, family, jobs, etc… (We just MIGHT have participated in a community circle, which MIGHT have been my idea.) (Hey. You can take the girl out of teaching, but you can’t take the teaching out of the girl.)
It was crazy. I sat with these ten friends and I was in awe. Of course I knew them all, but twenty years ago, I wasn’t close friends with all of them. Yet, that Central bond. It connects people in ways you can’t imagine. I had the best morning as we shared about our lives and how great God is to bless us with so much. I walked away from our coffee time with a big heart for these ten friends who are doing great things in their lives and being light to so many, doing good things and being awesome.
After catching up with friends at The Brew, I ran to meet Jen and some friends, who just happened to be catching up with Angie through FaceTime. Or maybe it was Skype? Anyway. Being pregnant with twins and living in Italy made it slightly difficult for Angie to come back for the reunion. The girls were going over time capsule stuff they did twenty years ago and wishes for their future. #mylipsaresealed
From there, Jen and I headed to the bookstore. Listen, I know I worked there twenty-three years ago and my parents would tell you that I have enough Central College sweatshirts, but I say never. Never can have enough CUI sweatshirts.
Jen and I left Maytag, with our next stop being…the football game. We met up with Kelle and made it just before half time.
Once again, we saw so many people. Pure heaven for this extrovert. I even stopped Coach Epperly to tell him “hello” from Patrick. He looked just as good as he always did. Once again, proof…Central folks just get better with age.
After visiting with a few or fifty friends, we went up to see Hubby’s friends at their tailgating site. For the record. Twenty years ago, there was NO tailgating going on. Unless you consider tailgating happening at the ADE house (the blue house…Boardwalk) or at the Theta House before the game. Then, by all means, we tailgated before games. And then, I started dating that cute Pat Patterson, who played football. After we began dating, I did what any self-respecting girlfriend would do and I went to the WHOLE game, not just strolling in at half-time. #devotedgirlfriend
The beautiful thing about Central is you aren’t just close with your class, but with classmates in the grade or two ahead of you and those younger than you. We said it so many times last weekend…it’s like ONE BIG FAMILY. So, we socialized with the classmates of ’94 because we don’t let a year/being ‘older’ come between us. No. We don’t discriminate. We are accepting. We are ALL family.
By the way, CUI is Central University of Iowa. AKA Central College. After more socializing (can I tell you how happy I was catching up with everyone?!), we walked up campus to Graham Hall for the post-game alumni gathering.
Graham Hall. Ohhhh, that place holds a special spot in my heart. Graham is where most freshmen girls lived. Top floor in the corner room…Room 316. That’s where I lived freshmen year, with Heather and Laura. And in the basement of Graham Hall was the campus cafeteria…CUIFS. Yes. You read that correctly. Don’t even go there with the jokes. We’ve laughed about it for twenty-four years.
Upon arrival and getting our name tags, we entered and OH. MY. WORD. There was a cash bar. YES. CASH BAR. Listen. Anyone who went to Central knows that it’s a “dry campus”. But they pulled out the stops for alumni weekend. And after taking our class of 1995 picture, they gave everyone a drink ticket. One free drink for showing up and saying “cheese”. I was very skeptical. I felt that this was all a set-up and at any minute, Dean Giles was going to come in and bust us, taking our tails to campus court where we’d be written up for having alcohol. (I am aware that it sounds like I’ve experienced this, but I’m going to ignore those questions and move on with the rest of the weekend events.)
Graham Hall is no longer the cafeteria. I know. I have fond memories of that place. The State Signing event freshmen year. Hoping the football players wouldn’t stare you down as you took your tray and walked to your table. Working in food service on the dirty dishes line for approximately three weeks, until I got an excuse from the doctor and had to be placed in a better, less germy job (the bookstore…selling sweatshirts and checking out the cute guys). Yes, I was pathetic and had “help” getting out of that nasty joby and was placed in a nicer, cleaner environment. No more doing dishes. #spoiledbrat
I snapped some pics of the new Graham Hall.
After enjoying the alumni festivities, I just HAD to tour Graham Hall again. I had to go find Room 316…where my life began back on this campus twenty-four years ago. Back when my hair was slightly darker. Hahaha. And when I was sporting bushier eyebrows. #somethingschangeforthebetter
Wait. What? Room 336? Nope. It should say this…
After reminiscing about freshmen year, Jen and I went back to the party downstairs. Then, for old times sake, someone threw out the words “Let’s go to The Octagon”. Though it wasn’t Friday night nor was it Happy Hour, we all obliged. The Octagon would be our next stop.
As I drove to The Octagon, memories flooded my mind. Twenty-two and a half years ago, on a January night, I was hoping that cute Pat Patterson would be there. And he was. The rest…is history. Happily married with two little Patterson boys 🙂
This was a common view twenty years ago, back when we were seniors…
Here’s the crazy thing. Saturday night, I mingled with friends who I knew twenty years ago and yet, haven’t seen since we graduated. And Eddy said what we were all thinking…”Why didn’t we hang out more back then?”
The night was so good for us all. We relived crazy bike stories, boy troubles, house parties, and more good times. Central is special. Had you told me when I was a freshmen that I’d have these bonds with all of these friends twenty-four years later, I wouldn’t have believed it.
That’s what is so different about going to a private, four-year liberal arts college in the Christian tradition, located in Pella, Iowa. (I took that sentence from Google. #sourcedit) This awesome Division III college where I not only graduated with an outstanding elementary education degree, but ran track for four years. This very diverse college where football players and grunge friends connected (thank you, Nirvana). This beautiful campus that was home to the first date with my hubby. This incredible college where I met people who will always hold a tight place in my heart. People who twenty years later I cherish even more now, than I did when I was living life daily with them.
Saturday was a gift and I can’t describe how proud I am of my fellow classmates. For the love. These friends are teachers, lawyers, doctors, preachers, husbands, wives, respecting adults working in small towns and big towns, working to stop crime, protecting children from creepy crimes, going undercover to make our world better, writing books, being moms and dads raising their kids, helping the mentally ill, being awesome aunts and uncles, volunteering, coaching, running their home like a well-oiled machine that is putting out love and hope into this huge, big world of ours. These friends. They are living life well.
And so, as I write and blog and do my thing in my part of the world, I hope I’ve reminded you to reflect and remember. God has been so good to us. He has blessed us with so much. By His goodness, we are where we are today because of Him. And the influences along the way…the friends we’ve met and the good memories we’ve made. They’ve been a gift.
I hope you do your thing you do and do it well. Because we have so much to offer and we can share a little piece of Central with everyone we meet.
The years have been good to you, friends of Central…the class of 1995. Until next year…
** For the record, I say we make this Homecoming an annual thing. Many of us agreed…we can’t let another five or ten or twenty years go by without seeing each other. Life is good and we’ve been blessed. Let’s do it again. Next year. Same time. Same place.