William & Mary folks are a strange (but awesome) family in a strange (but awesome) place – and Homecoming brings the annual memory jog that this has always been W&M’s M.O.
This weekend’s been a strange (but awesome) weekend. As the rest of the East Coast braces for Hurricane Sandy’s approach – ‘playfully’ dubbed the “Frankenstorm” – by evacuating coastal areas and taking to grocery stores, members of the W&M family from all areas and all decades have reverse evacuated to the old College, living proof that in the logic of all W&M alumni, homecomings > hurricanes.
As the clouds gather and the winds begin to kick up, College Delly has never been more crowded, and never have more people been seen falling down the Green Leafe’s still-disastrous front steps. Confusion Corner hasn’t seen such dishevelment since last October. Just walking down Richmond Rd exposes you to the constant threat of un-prompted, rib-crushing hugs from our oldest friends with the most familiar faces.
But while the W&M family gathers to share a reunion, a beer, a booth, a back-slap, a re-kindling, a laugh, a memory, a tailgate, and the many, many moments of our most-formative years in this place, we also gather to bask, in some way, in a larger fact.
Profound in its simplicity is the fact that the W&M experiment has always stood apart from anywhere else. Our alumni stand apart. Our campus stands apart. Our friendships, our accomplishments, and our pride stand apart. Yesterday I watched members of the Class of 2016 speak richly, laugh, and trade stories with new friends from the Class of 1955. I watched as students hosted their parents – and their parents classmates – in Lodges where different members of the same family have lived, and learned, across generations. I watched as parents from classes in the 90s and 00s, decked in green and gold, walked along with their children, clad in green and gold—future members of the Class of 2032.
W&M stands apart because in a world that is profoundly divided, this college is profoundly shared. As I walk past generations of the W&M family walking these old familiar brick walks this weekend, I’m vibrantly aware of the continuity of W&M.
It is said at W&M, and it is true, “We have all drunk from wells we did not dig, and been warmed by fires we did not build.”
It’s fallen on me and my friends now to stoke the fires of W&M, and that’s a responsibility and a privilege I bear gladly.
To all returning to this grand old place I’d say:
We’ve kept the lights on. Welcome home.