Why I am Grateful for a Hurricane

The summer interviewers have taken to asking their interviewees what one day they would choose to relive if they could. While if asked this question I would probably respond with “my wedding day” (sappy I know) I thought a good blog post might be answering an altered version of the question. If I had one day to repeat from my undergraduate experience at William & Mary, what would it be?

Approximately three weeks after my freshman move-in day, Hurricane Floyd came to Williamsburg. The storm was fairly minor; some trees were lost and power lines were downed. At 4:30 on September 16, all students received an email stating that classes were canceled for the following day. It is the next 24 hours that I would relive because those 24 hours portray a microcosm of my entire wonderful William & Mary experience.

At 4:30, my freshman seminar with Dr. David Holmes was commencing. Dr. Holmes was what I always pictured a college professor to be. He was older, white-haired, loved martinis, and referred to every student as Ms. or Mr. ___. He even made my classmates and I refer to each other as Mr. or Ms. ___. When he heard that classes were canceled for the following day he invited my classmates and I out to dinner. We ended up at the restaurant next to our class building, A’Carrols (a restaurant that is now sadly closed but one that I would argue was the nicest and best restaurant in all of Williamsburg…and that’s saying something). At dinner, I had the opportunity to learn more about the learned Dr. Holmes (who became more philosophical and more amusing with each martini he ordered) and more about my classmates. I learned that one of my classmates, Ms. Ketchum, lived on the first floor of my residence hall. She would become my roommate for my final three years at the College and my maid of honor so thanks to a hurricane I met my best friend.

After dinner I returned to my residence hall and by this time, it had started to pour. Pour is not even the right word. Whatever word there is for beyond torrential rain, that describes the weather conditions in Williamsburg that day. The great think about torrential rain is that it creates lots of mud, the key ingredient in mud football. By 11:00 PM or midnight, I swear half of the campus was playing mud football in the Sunken Gardens while other students had established the college version of slip-and-slide. It is random events such as these that seem to happen daily on our campus because of the initiative and fun-loving nature of William & Mary students. It is random memories such as these that I will always cherish from my college experience.

The next day we awoke to find that the campus had lost power. When there is no power, the library, dining halls, and most of campus shuts down. There was no television, no internet, no nothing. But that would not stop my dormmates and I. We found plenty of ways to amuse ourselves. The first was finding sustenance. Apparently the College felt that a tray of brownies and some apples would feed the grumbling stomachs of 150 freshman students (men and women). If any of you have seen the way a college male eats you would know that brownies and an apple wouldn’t do. So some of my guy friends from down the hall headed out to the local grocery store to find whatever was left. They came back with several loads of bread and jars upon jars of peanut butter and jelly. In our third floor kitchen we formed an assembly line and produced 150 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; the best PB&Js I ever tasted by the way.

Next we needed something to entertain ourselves. One of my hallmates introduced us all to a card game named Mao. To this day I cannot remember how the game is played or who won but I know that we never laughed harder than we did that afternoon, crammed into the social lounge playing this ridiculously complex and unique card game.

When the power came back on later that afternoon we all turned on our computers, checked our emails, and headed to the dining halls for dinner. Classes were held the next day and life returned to normal but I would relive that 24 hours in a heartbeat. In that 24 hours I got to know one of my professors (a hallmark of William & Mary is the ability to get to know your faculty) who is still one of my good friends and advisors today, I met my future roommate and maid of honor (the people at William & Mary make this place what it is and the friendships developed here last a lifetime), and I experienced those random events that happen on college campuses at midnight, the memories of which make you laugh decades later.

– Wendy Livingston

Categories: Admission, Campus Life, Faculty & Staff Blogs

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