It was difficult not to notice what was different on campus when I got to Simmons for my 25th college reunion (I'll spare you the math; that means I'm 47). After all, I parked in the new underground parking garage and picked up my regisitration materials in the new SOM (School of Management). But then, after I got over to Dix hall (after passing by the Merck building on the Emmanuel campus!) and saw the flat screen TV and felt the cool breeze of the air conditioning (so very welcome for those of us staying on campus who are having "tropical moments"...right, Ann?), I saw the green plastic covered mattress. And I was grounded. Indeed, I was at Simmons; not everything had changed.
As the weekend went on I noticed more differences, changes in the Simmons College/Fenway neighborhood that I don't typically visit on my fairly frequent weekends in Boston: Starbucks, a Panera, movie theaters, a couple of new restaurants, a Marshall's "coming soon" (!) all within walking distance of campus.
And yet, with all those wonderful Simmons' upgrades and expansions, and the recent (long overdue) revitalization of the neighborhood, what was so wonderfully familiar to me was the ability of all of us who were celebrating our reunion to connect--again for some, for the first time for others--and to stand tall in the common bond of our Simmons College education and find something else in common too, to feel our collective strength.
How nice it was not to be asked immediately upon making eye contact, "Are you married?" Rather, initial questions were more of the variety of what are you doing now? Are you still in nursing/PT/teaching/finance/human resources/event planning? Or are you local or did you have to travel to attend? Sometimes we didn't greet each other with questions at all but, maybe after a hug, with kind words related to memories of each other. It's so good to see you. I remember how nice/kind/funny/well spoken/outspoken you were. Eventually we might get around to talking about children and spouses, but the course of conversations reinforced what we had all learned about ourselves that has made all the difference in our lives--or at least mine. We are measured most meaningfully by our character, our strengths and our kindnesses, which we reflect in our actions and often in our careers.
Twenty five years later, I remain proud to be a Simmons woman.
Thank you, everyone; I had a great time.