Oberlin: Illuminated

IlluminatedWe’re safely back from Ohio, and my heart is so full of happy memories. We were only there for the weekend, but somehow it seems much longer than that. (And, in true college fashion, there was far more to do and see than you could possibly cram into a day, I spent the whole weekend slightly bleary-eyed, and serendipitous rendezvouses were around every corner. In a word: perfect.) There were far too many highlights to put into just one post, but here are a few of them. On our first date, as Eric and I swapped stories about our undergrad days, it became apparent that we’d experienced a bit of disciplinary cross-pollination before we ever met: I’d taken an astronomy course at Oberlin, while he’d taken a Russian lit class at Harvard. Many brownie points were awarded, in both directions, and we loved having just that little bit of common ground. This weekend I got to take Eric up on to the roof of Peters, my favorite building on campus, where I’d go on windy frozen nights to look through the telescopes with my classmates. We made it up just in time to catch this gorgeous sunset. Worlds colliding, in the best possible way.

IlluminatedThis is Peters, beloved of my heart, and you can see the dome on top. I can’t tell you how awesome it was to learn and to teach Russian in that majestic castle.

IlluminatedOne of the things I was most looking forward to at the reunion was something I never got to experience myself: illumination. The night before graduation, the square is strung with bright Japanese lanterns, which are lit as dusk falls. There’s pie and ice cream and a jazz band and a steel drum performance. The weekend of my graduation…we were hit with a crazy storm/tornado. I was really heartbroken. I worked so hard in college (erm, probably too hard, if we’re being honest), and illumination and graduation were my prizes to be claimed. I dreamed of them on my many afternoons and evenings holed up in the library with my books. They still tried to hold illumination under a tent, but it was a muddy mess, and it made me so sad I couldn’t stay. Graduation took place in a sweltering gym. The commencement staff who made all the changes at the last minute deserve gold medals, but it just wasn’t the same for any of us. And so this year, illumination was really sweet and special.

IlluminatedOf course, this year there was a bittersweet note: not everyone was there. But Eric was. All during those crazy and hectic four years, I never imagined I’d be back with my husband, holding his hand under the moonlight. Having him there made me feel whole. Now he knows all of the places that made me who I am. And it was tremendously fun to catch up with my classmates who did make it to town.

IlluminatedAlso, I am not sure I have ever seen so much pie in my life: amazing! Eric and I had cherry vanilla and very berry. So delicious.

IlluminatedAs the daylight faded, it felt even more miraculous to run into people we knew. We spent most of the night exchanging dissertation horror stories (they’re funny now that they’re behind us!) with my friends Michael and Calvin, with the jazz band trumpeting away behind us. It was cold, and we wore our coats, and I loved every second of it.

IlluminatedI think this picture is the best. We took it to send to my dear friend Steve, who couldn’t be there. The gentleman on the right is my friend John, who we call Krang, for good reason, not to worry. He used to hang out with me while I laundered my many sweaters, and we played board games on Friday nights and bowled so very many games at our local college lanes. He was also one of my library buddies, and he could always be counted on to snap me out of it when I was taking myself too seriously. He and his girlfriend were at our wedding two years ago, dancing the night away. So this picture says it all: Krang was there, and Eric was there, and I was the happiest, the happiest.

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