Sunday, February 21, 2010

Reunion, Take Two

I loved Houghton College even before I went. Visiting campus with my parents to their own class reunions, attending soccer camp, and seeing my big brother shave his head as part of the men's soccer team helped me realize that Houghton was a special place. Nestled in the hills of Allegany County, it's definitely rural, but the absence of stores, malls, and even a grocery store forces the student body to bond. At least, that's how it worked for my closest college friends. An amalgamation of Highlander friendships, FYHP attendees, and roommates, we shared a special bond that grew strong and deep during our four years together. In fact, it was such a strong connection that we all felt the separation post May 2007 down to our cores. I know I was surprised to be so lonely without these women.

Despite the distance that separated us, our friendships continued to grow. We instituted a monthly email, intended to keep us from becoming Christmas-letter-only friends. It works, with some of us writing on time, some of us writing late, and some of us procrastinating for a month or two. (I fall into the last category right now.) We've also managed not one but two reunions -- more if you count the three weddings that we've shared. Not everyone has been able to make it to each of these events, but oh boy, have them been wonderful! Last February we met up in Chicago. We crowded together in a hotel, froze in the city, and made a joyful memory.
This year, spurred by the quick stateside visit of one of our (currently) international amigas, we decided to meet outside of Washington, D.C., the first weekend of February. Not to be outdone by the frigid temperatures experienced in Chicago, this trip happened to occur in the massive snowstorm that blasted the East Coast. We all managed to arrive and leave safely, including Kate and her baby daughter, who flew in from Minneapolis, MN. The feet of snow that we got ensured that we had lots of time to sit and chat, but unfortunately also mandated that we dig out our cars.
This was the Sub, part way through its unearthing. It really wasn't much fun to shovel out our cars, but fortunately, everyone pitched in (except for the baby, but I guess we can't blame her). It actually provided a decent way to work of some of the calories we ate (and ATE) during that weekend.

And although next year we vowed to meet in Vegas, this reunion proved to become another unforgettable memory. Being able to talk, eat, laugh and pray together was another reason I'm thankful for the time I spent at Houghton.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Our Gracious Host

On January 9, 2010, before 6 a.m., Dan and I bid adieu to Williams Bay, Wisconsin. The car was crammed with our earthly possessions, absolutely jam packed. The car was so full, germs had to sign up on a waiting list to get in. I had lampshades on my lamp, food at my feet, toiletries filling the empty space between my right thigh and the car door, and Dan and I both rested our elbows on the pillow that was between us. I slept as to forget how uncomfortable I was.

Anyways, we made it to Pennsylvania without incident, and after spending one night with Dan's parents, we began the arduous process of moving in. No apartment for us, not a farmhouse surrounded by cornfields: this time we are bunking with Dan's Gram, qualifying us in many ways as people hit by the recession. (There's a commercial about what people are doing to cut back: living with my parents, eating less meat, becoming a one car family. Check, check, check!) But really, we're absolutely blessed to be living with Gram, besides the obvious economical benefits.

Gram is gracious, funny, and growing older. She benefits from a little help in the kitchen and the company that we provide. She often wears a gray-purple hat, much to the family's annoyance, always offers to bring ice cream to family functions, and likes her fair share of salt on, well, everything. One day I witnessed her butter her wheat-thins; it must be a generational thing to butter one's crackers.

I'm also teaching Gram how to use the computer. We've gotten her an email account and she is beginning to get the gist of how to reply to emails. The computer is still a great mystery to her, but I'm impressed that she has the gumption to try. Today she received an e-card, much to her delight, that she chuckled at the entire time it played.

I am learning that growing old, elegantly, is a lofty goal. It takes style, a relaxed attitude, and a good bit of humor. My own grandmothers display a good bit of pizazz, and getting to know Dan's gram is another example of how aging can be beautiful. Spending time with Gram sometimes makes me roll my eyes, and other times smile so hard that my cheeks are sore. My favorite part? That she will ask Dan, when he is giving her grief, "Do you like where you're sleeping?"

And to that, I laugh and say, "Oh, Gram."