About four years ago, I was brushing my teeth in a very small Ludwell Apartment bathroom when my college roommate told me she liked this guy also living in our apartment complex. I quickly finished brushing my teeth because I needed more details on this potential love interest.
About a week ago, my roommate and this guy got engaged at Lake Matoaka. Her now fiancé knew that the engagement would not be complete unless there was a celebration, so some close friends and I traveled to Williamsburg for a surprise party to congratulate the couple. My roommate was flabbergasted when she walked into the house to find us around the corner screaming, “Congrats!”
My roommate and I celebrate her engagement.
Later in the evening, I stood in the kitchen watching my friends engage in various conversations throughout the room, and I realized how all of these conversations were happening because William & Mary had brought us together, and was still bringing us together since several of us had driven back to the Burg that day to celebrate. The people in that room know me so well, and conversations that I had with them that night were not forced. They were filled with genuine curiosity about how I was doing, and their words were sprinkled with encouragements and thoughtful questions. Not all my William & Mary friends were present, but the ones there reminded me how grateful I am for all the friendships I formed during my time at the university. Moreover, everyone there was so happy because we were together and we were celebrating this couple who we’ve watched grow over the past few years. They radiated joy, and we were happy to sit in their light.
A trip to Williamsburg would not be complete without a visit to campus, so one of my best friends and I stopped by the Sunken Garden before we left, walking barefoot through the freshly damp grass until we were standing in the center peering into the sky. It was the first time we’d both been back on campus since we’d graduated in May, and I think we were both curious about how we’d feel being back on the grounds. The whole evening had felt surreal – an engagement, a surprise party, a reunion of good friends. But for me, that moment in the Sunken Garden didn’t feel surreal; it felt tangible and natural and right. It felt like, “Oh yes, of course I’m back here standing in the Sunken Garden with this dear friend. Of course.” We were both cognizant of how a piece of us will always belong to this place and its people.
I realize that I’ve only been away from campus for a few months now, but I hope I will always have that attitude when I visit – that of-course-I-belong-here attitude – not because of the William & Mary degrees I hold, but because of the friendships I formed along the way.