Every Day is Saturday

Finding Joy in the Here and Now

Memory Vision

Catawba Ad Bldg 2013

I go back to my college Homecoming every year. I go because I want to see people I only get to see during that weekend, and to re-connect to the person I was during my years there – young, passionate, naïve maybe. But hopeful. Blissfully ignorant of the daily grind of adulthood.  I liked her, and I like to hang out with her once a year. But I’ve said all that before.

What struck me on this visit had more to do with the way my memories of those years come alive for me when I’m on campus. The school has outwardly changed very little in the almost 30 years since I graduated, so picturing my younger self in that setting is incredibly easy. When I’m away from there I of course can remember what the buildings look like and how they are situated, but when I’m there it’s like I’ve stepped inside my memory. The administration building, my dorm, the theatre – they all exist both then and now simultaneously. I spent a lot of time walking around campus with various people on this trip, and I kept seeing myself everywhere I looked.

This ditty is the best way I can describe it:

Memory Vision

I see with two sets of eyes.

They see both then and now.


I walk down a sidewalk today, and I see my 20-year-old self

Almost dancing down the same sidewalk, dressed up like a Gypsy,

With my friends, a band of Gypsies,

Going to the Banquet.


I look at the old building and I see me, bursting through the door,

Rushing to class, my books in my arms,

The chapel bell tolling out the seconds

Of my lateness.


You and I walk into the place I lived, my dorm,

And I see us, sitting on the couch in the lobby,

Talking, teasing, testing –

Where would this go?


We didn’t know, because we couldn’t see us,

who we are now, our older selves with our gray hair,

Standing and staring

At where we used to be

And still are,

And will always.


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Homecoming 2014: Friendship, Cleavage, and Bad Shrimp

Catawba Ad Bldg 2013

This past weekend I attended my college’s Homecoming festivities, as I do every year. I made the 4-hour journey with one of my dearest friends (we’ll call him “G”) who has a much nicer car than I do. I arrived at G’s house mid-morning so we could grab a late breakfast and be on the road early enough to avoid the worst of the Friday traffic through Charlotte. It was a good plan, and it mostly worked; we had a fashion emergency and had to stop at a mall on the way, but we got to the hotel in plenty of time for me to lay down for a few minutes before getting all dressed up for the evening.

And dressed up I got. I wore a black dress I’d bought some months earlier that I’d not yet had occasion to put on. It’s a wrap dress with a side tie, and because of the way it draped, it exposed quite a lot of cleavage. I almost didn’t wear it because of that; I tend to keep the girls under cover. Not because I have a moral problem with cleavage, it’s just that I’m generously proportioned in that area and I feel incredibly conspicuous, and therefore uncomfortable, with my tatas on display. But that night I figured “What the hell!” and put on the dress.  I curled my hair and used my smoky eye shadow and red lipstick. The patent leather pointy-toe slingback shoes went on last. My jewelry was understated, just a pair of earrings. I figured I didn’t need anything else to draw attention to my breasts. They were pretty much out there all by themselves.

Thus bedecked I went in search of G. The plan was to meet some friends for an early dinner and then go to an awards ceremony and reception at the school. The restaurant that had been chosen by the group was just steps away from the hotel, which was fine as we didn’t have a lot of time.

Some of our friends had arrived earlier and were already working on their entrees when G and I got there. G sampled the broiled shrimp on one of the plates and determined that it was rubbery and flavorless, and should be avoided. I for some reason decided to throw caution to the wind (as evidenced by my skin-revealing attire) and order the fried shrimp. G told me not to. I did it anyway. I figured it was fried, how bad could it be? I was also ignoring the fact that in the past three months I’d cleaned up my diet significantly; I hadn’t had anything fried in a very long time. But I was feeling reckless (as I imagine women who routinely wear low-cut dresses must feel), and I ate the shrimp.

I didn’t realize what a colossal mistake I’d made until about five minutes after I finished the half-dozen butterfly shrimp on my plate. Suddenly I felt flushed, and my stomach gave a huge lurch. We paid the bill and I somehow made it back to the hotel, but at that point, my big night out was over.

I’ll spare you the details.

The next day I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything, but I did get dressed and go tailgating with everyone.

Normally I’m all over the place at the Homecoming game. Mind you, I never actually go IN the stadium to watch the game, I just wander around the parking lot talking to people. That day, though, I wasn’t feeling up to much, so I stayed where I was. Most everyone I wanted to see came by and hung out anyway, so I didn’t miss much. What did happen is that instead of being an instigator, my shaky physical condition forced me to take on the role of observer. A good bit of the time I either sat or stood watching other people and listening to them talk either to me or to others. What I saw didn’t surprise me; it only reinforced to me why I make this trek every year.

We love each other. We might not even know each other very well, or maybe we haven’t seen each other in a long time, or maybe we didn’t particularly enjoy each other’s company when we were in college, but now, all these years later, we come together and tell our stories, past and present, and we wrap each other up in the sure knowledge that no matter what happens we can always come here and find Home.

I spent a good part of the day with a woman who had been my suite mate for two years; we’ll call her “S”. S and I weren’t close friends when we were in school together, but we always got along, and even though she was a year older than me, for some reason I felt protective of her. I never told her that because it was a strange thing to feel about someone you don’t know very well, but I always sensed a vulnerability about her that triggered that response. It was great to reconnect with her, and to hear more about her journey. I had forgotten what a good storyteller she is, and I so enjoyed hearing her voice again and knowing that she is happy in her life. At one point she loaned me her ticket to the football game so I could use the most proximate ladies room, and as she dug it out of her pocket and handed it to me I spontaneously said “I love you!”. She looked at me and said “I love you, too.”

That’s why I go every year, without fail, no matter what else is going on. So I can love and be loved by these people who either share my history or something very similar to it. We understand each other because we’re the ones who got it. We all drank to Koolaid and got on the bandwagon and swallowed the same pill. That means that deep down where it counts we have something fundamental in common. I’m not sure what that is – values, beliefs, aspirations – but whatever it is, it binds us together. I know that not everyone who attended that school feels the same way about it. I guess they never felt the love that suffuses the place. I feel sorry for them. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.




Coming Home

Catawba Ad Bldg 2013

“There is something inherent in us as human beings that naturally draws us to the past.  Something that for some reason makes us recall the events that occurred in times we’ve left behind.  Be it to fill the hole that somehow emerged in our lives, to reacquaint ourselves with something we were separated from, or simply to savor happiness once felt.”

I didn’t write these words; they were written by a college classmate as a Director’s Note.  They would have been printed in the program for a show he directed in the late 1980’s when he was nineteen or twenty years old.  I don’t remember reading them.  I was a college student myself and the past didn’t have the same meaning for me then as it does now.  But they were particularly poignant when I read them again just recently during my college’s Homecoming weekend.

For many years now I have attended Homecoming.  I started going not long after I graduated, and with a few exceptions, I’ve been back every year.  I am not unaware that this devotion to my alma mater is probably perceived by some as kinda pathetic; I get that.  It’s not good to worship the past, and my loyalty could be seen as an indication of an unfulfilling present.   Some of that is true – I do tend to romanticize the past, which makes the present seem sorta dull by comparison – so some of the reasons I am drawn to Homecoming are those that were so beautifully articulated by my classmate twenty-five years ago.  But it’s not the whole story.

There’s something about my college that inspires former students to return year after year; I’m not the only alum to make the trip over and over again, not by a long shot.  At a reception on the Friday evening I stood with a dear friend and a former professor, and we talked about the mystery of our enduring commitment.  We talked about the bonds that are created through the mutual trust that grows out of shared experiences, but that didn’t seem to do it justice.  I confided to my friend that one of the reasons I come back is to see our former professors, some of whom are aging rapidly and most likely won’t be able to attend the Homecoming events much longer.  I come to honor them, to pay my respects for the impact they had on me and my life.  But that’s not the whole story, either.

This year I arrived quite early on Friday to attend an 8:00 am class that was advertised as being open to alumni.  The class was taught by one of my favorite professors, and the look on his face when I walked into his classroom was worth getting up at 3:00 am for the drive.  Afterwards I walked around campus taking pictures; most of the buildings that were there during my time are still there.  It’s a beautiful place, and I strolled around in the sunshine reacquainting myself with the architecture.  Eventually I wound up in the theatre where I had spent so many wonderful hours of my college years, as a performer and a technician.  I sat down in the semi-darkness and let my thoughts drift as I listened to the building breathe.  This is where I feel the most at peace, in the silence of that house.  I was completely alone, but I am never lonely there.  But that is still only a part of the story.

After a while I got up and made my way to the stage.  Tables with memorabilia from the theatre department’s past had been set up in preparation for the reception to be held later that evening, so I spent some time looking at it.  This is where I discovered the Director’s Note I’ve quoted from above, and its immediacy took my breath away.  Reading those words was like holding up a mirror; I could see myself in it so clearly.  But, as pointed as they were, those words still didn’t answer the question of my annual pilgrimage.

At least part of the answer began to come to me as I continued to look through the programs and cast lists and photos on those tables, because I found myself there.  My name, recorded in the history of the theatre department on display.  And not just once; multiple times my name appeared in cast and crew lists, and I recognized a new motivation for why I come back every year.

I come back because I WAS HERE.  I was part of the story of this place, and I will have always been here.  As time goes by, the idea that I’ve left traces of myself that can still be seen becomes more and more important to me, that I have left some sort of impression on a place, like a stamp pressed into soft wax that slowly hardens over time.

I’ve spent chunks of my life in different places – high school, jobs, grad school – but I just sort of passed through.  Sometimes I’ve worked hard to leave traces of myself, but inevitably, they have become obliterated with the passing of time, and any echoes of me have faded.  This is normal, and I don’t worry about it.  So the fact that there is a place in this world where evidence of my presence is permanently preserved is, to me, worth the effort I make to keep the connection alive.

And of course there are the people.  It is a singular joy to look into the eyes of someone with whom you have shared part of your history and see yourself staring back at you.  I experience mutual understanding with other alums that exists at a level usually only found between siblings.  We get each other.  We can talk in the shorthand that comes from taking the knowledge of each other’s past for granted.  This is true even if we weren’t that close while we were in school; even if we didn’t actually know each other then.  It doesn’t matter.  Our common love binds us to each other and to this place.  And it is this love that takes us from the past into the present – the love we feel isn’t then, it’s NOW.  It isn’t nostalgia, it is a living thing.  The most compelling reason I go back is so that I can step into that flow of love and let it surround me.  The love I feel in that place reminds me not of who I was, but who I am.  Apparently I need that reminder once a year.

Photo by Amanda Taylor Brooks 


Thanks for reading my blog!  If you want to know more about me and my journey, check out my book “Everyday is Saturday” on Kindle.  The book is part diary, part memoir, about the first year after I was laid off from my dream job.  I think it has something to say to anyone who is struggling with change.



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