Should I Go to My College Reunion? YES, It’s Worth The Effort.

As a follow up to a post I wrote last year about reconnecting with old friends, I recently attended my 20th Reunion at Boston College with my husband, who I met at BC. #BCreunion #wearebc Are we really that old to say we graduated 20 years ago? My husband’s parents were our age when he entered freshman year and our children’s ages are not even in double digits. Our generation is at least 10 years behind our parents’ generation in terms of getting married and starting a family.

It’s been MAY MADNESS for our family: our daughter’s birthday, a cousin’s college graduation, a cousin’s wedding in Newport, RI, and finally, our college reunion. Those were just the weekend obligations. As parents, you can attest to the other madness during the school week as well and let’s not forget work. I had to remind myself to breathe slowly, don’t get overwhelmed, one thing at a time, then SCREAM (at least I wish I could). Our children got sick along the way a few times, but what can you do?

It has been so overwhelming that it was tempting to back out of the reunion. We purchased our reunion tickets, told our BC friends we were coming, and booked our flights and hotel. We had slept in 4 different hotels in a week. Everything was paid for (but so what?). We could make up many excuses not to go. Since we were living overseas in London, UK, for 10 years, we missed all the other reunions so why do we need to go to this one? Even though I tried to persuade friends to go, especially those living in the Boston area to make an effort, not many were inspired to do so. It’s a shame because it would have been lovely to see them.

We had to make the best of the 24 hours we had in Boston. When we arrived at our hotel downtown, we rested briefly before the next event, before the official reunion on the same evening. I had reconnected with an old friend from my freshman dorm only last year. Lainie and I were sending text messages trying to coordinate where and when to meet. I always liked her and wondered why we lost touch? We had the name “Lainie” in common – Lainie is her nickname and it’s my middle name. We found each other on Facebook and when we exchanged emails last year; she wrote,I am glad we found each other again though, you are one of the people I remember fondly when I think of BC! If you count the limited amount of time we actually spent in college, it’s truly remarkable for us to have such an affinity for each other after 20+ years of not speaking.

We discovered an intimate restaurant in the South End to eat an early dinner with our families. I was thankful to have the chance to meet each other’s families. Lainie and I sat next to each other looking through a photo album I made from freshman and sophomore years – lots of big hair, floral dresses, light-colored jeans (that look similar to mom jeans), random dates to semi-formals… We talked as if time had not passed sharing our freshman crushes, who we dated, etc. We were relishing in the nostalgia even though she couldn’t remember many of the people or their names, and she was shocked that I could recall all the names. Although I must admit that I do NOT remember Lainie visiting me on Roosevelt Island in New York. She said my mom even cooked us a Filipino dinner. I said really, “my mom cooked?” Not many people met my parents during my BC years. Our poor husbands had to keep the peace since our over-exhausted children, who had been dragged from one event to the next, were out of control – shoes were thrown, hair was pulled, plus a lot of screaming and meltdowns ensued. Thanks goodness the restaurant was loud enough to drown the noise we made. One of the superpowers mothers have is the ability to completely block out what the children are saying and doing and still have a decent conversation. Lainie and I had decades to catch up on within an hour time frame.

Next stop: Boston College Reunion. We said our goodbyes and went to our respective hotels to change for the reunion. We asked each other what we were going to wear, as girlfriends do. I had a sneaking suspicion of what the BC female attire would be: cute cocktail dresses in different patterns – perhaps Lilly Pulitzer or Tory Burch? I opted for the opposite, minimal black and white, and London/New York chic combining elements from Paul Smith, Alice Temperley, Marc Jacobs, and Alexander Wang.

There were over 300 alumni under a large brightly lit tent between Gasson Hall and Bapst Library reminiscing over our college days, with music blaring in the background including those popular in the 1990s. All these familiar faces from the past who you didn’t necessarily know. I had seen the guest list and was hoping to run into certain people. We loved talking to people we expected to see, but even more pleasantly surprised to run into people we didn’t know were going to be there.

As I turned the corner to make my way to find a certain friend, I saw a familiar welcoming smile looking at me. Right away, I knew it was Amy from my freshman dorm and hugged her immediately. She looked sophisticated with her sleek blonde hair and striped cocktail dress, no longer with the super curly tresses and baggy pants rolled up as I had remembered. I learned that she grew up in the same area we currently live. Next to her were 3 other lovely ladies from our dorm: Jen, Charlene and Diane. Big hugs for all. I introduced them to my husband who they didn’t know. It was amazing to catch up although we never really spent much time together in college. There is such fondness for each other so why weren’t we close friends then? We have to make up for lost time. It was a such highlight seeing the 4 ladies and witness how close they still are.

Hardey, our dorm on Newtown Campus, had 3 floors of ladies and 1 floor of gents so everyone knew the gents. I quickly said hello to John and Karen, who met at Hardey and married years later, before they left the reunion to relieve their teenage babysitter. From across the room, I waved to Mike to say hello then walked over to give him a hug. He said hello as if we’ve been talking all this time, “My wife (who we’re Facebook friends with) tells me all about what’s been happening in your life.” I fondly remember dancing with Mike at clubs and parties (pre-husband days). He was a great dancer and no one would expect him to be into hip hop. Not sure what they called hip hop in those days. He would lend me mixed tapes of his favorite music and teach me some of his dance moves. Fun memories. I used to love to dance. Unfortunately his wife did not attend, who I haven’t met beyond Facebook, since she was home with their young children (who look adorable from pictures). Hope to meet them all some day soon.

We ended the night with a “Gary Moment”. My husband and Gary were friends from living in Fitzpatrick on upper campus freshman year and it’s only been weeks since I LinkedIn with him. We exchanged a few emails and there you are, caught up with each other’s lives after all these years. He greeted me with “I know everything about you (from social media). What else is there to talk about?” As Gary and I were talking, one of Gary’s friend’s asked my husband, “How do Gary and your wife know each other so well.” My husband said, “I introduced them sophomore year…” then he really couldn’t keep explaining why we seemed so close. Friendly person + friendly person = instant old friends. Gary’s wife, who he met at BC, said to my husband, “He’s having a GARY Moment.” He knew exactly what she meant. Gary was so excited to tell me that he remembered that I lived on Roosevelt Island and he finally had the chance to ride the red tram (think Spiderman with Toby McGuire) and go to a party on the island. Gary, thanks for remembering where my parents lived during our BC years. Not many people would know that about me. We hope our families have a chance to spend some time together this summer.

The following day we brought our children to the BC Family Jazz Brunch next to the new Alumni Center. We were relieved to meet our friend, Chris, and his family, since the average age of alumni seemed to be above the retirement age. Chris was under the impression that our other friends were coming. Oh well. We enjoyed the quality time with his family, who we saw last year when we hosted our own mini BC reunion in the Boston area. After brunch, we took a walk to lower campus. We passed by the former BC Budget Office near the BC T-stop where I worked as a student organizing microfiche (remember those, which were dated even then?). I remember seeing professor’s salaries (which were high in those days) and large program budgets. We continued on to St. Ignatius at BC, where my husband and I got married. It was a sentimental moment to be there with our children. Chris recalled all our wedding details and we thank him for that.

Freshman year truly defines the group of friends you are with for your four years in college (like it or not). It’s as if you have been stranded on an island and your only means of survival is friendship. You’re open to meeting as many people as possible who share the same trepidation as you in this foreign environment sans parental supervision. It was our rite of passage into adulthood and who we would become.

College was 20 years ago and yet even if we haven’t talked since then or may not have known each other very well, there is a mutual support for one another – congratulations on your family, your career, your experiences… We’re so happy for you. We met each other when our adult lives were just beginning and it’s fascinating to discover the different journeys we have taken. It’s our second chance to get to know each other better.

If you are wondering if it’s worth going to your college reunion, the answer is a resounding YES, definitely make the effort. Be open to the possibilities. The reunion made us realize that we have old friendships to revisit and nurture for the future. We have Boston College to thank for that memorable introduction long ago.

My last text exchange with Lainie sums it up best:

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