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Reunion Weekend

May 31, 2009

Three days to Iowa and back, for my 10th reunion.  10 seems a big number, two whole digits–but unlike my last reunion, where I think I wanted to go back and relive my college years, this was a weekend of relaxing in the present.  A road trip with Christer (and a fairly cooperative baby), beautiful start-of-summer weather (while also remembering hiking across campus with a bag of books in the snow), and the release of stepping out of the ordinary and into vacation all helped.

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I was struck on this trip on the sense of peace and sanctuary that I feel on campus.  That’s part of the design, right?  Send young adults off into a bubble to focus on their studies and whatever else it takes to grow up a bit?  And so the quite study spaces, generous common areas, and gentile air of affluence throughout is all designed to put one at ease.  I’m going to believe that it’s more than just design and my own store of memories, though, that makes the world pause a bit when I walk across my old campus.  This was a place where I was challenged to my core, and yet still feel remarkably safe.  And that feeling was nearly tangible, especially when I found myself apart from the group and family, walking between this and that alone for a few minutes.  And it extended into the time spent with the people of Grinnell–quick catch-ups with the folks who were once a part of my everyday community, and long warm evenings basking in well-aged friendships.

Going back 10 years inevitably means revisiting my past self, my past thoughts and dreams.  I found myself uneasy when a current student asked what we’re doing now–and didn’t quite admit that I’m staying home and raising a baby right now.  I’ve had a few rough patches in finding a career, and I wonder if past me would be disapointed that I haven’t continued on certain paths.  But present me is mostly happy with where I am.  Mostly–but still a bit open to the challenge of the past reminding me that someday, when I am ready, I do have the skills and drive to take on the world outside of my family once again.

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Then there was the joy of being in this space with my own son, showing him around (and maybe posing him for a picture or two.)  Nothing to pull me back into the present like the crys of a homesick baby in the night, or his giggles as he met my friends.

It’s a powerful and thoughtful space, this intersection of past and future.  Good thing the main responsibility of the weekend was arriving to meals on time–because it is good to rest in the sanctuary, relax a bit, catch your breath.  Tomorrow I’m back to the regular routine, and we’ll see if the past continues to have any messages for me.

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