Monday, November 22, 2010

Good Ol' WBC

I had a special treat today - a visit with my long lost friend, Maggs, and her husband Brent. We met at my sister Holly's house, adored each other's children, and the three of us recalled stories of yesteryear. We all went to college together at dear old Williams Baptist College. In the words of Charles Dickens, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times.

It was the best because it was this isolated little place, full of fabulous people, and fabulous faculty who really cared about students. It's difficult to describe, but you know what? If you haven't been a student at Williams, I guess there's no way to really explain to you why attending college with only 500 other students in the entire school, which happens to sit in the middle of a bean field, which happens to be between two sleepy little towns...hard to make you understand why that's so great. But it's not the bean field or the towns that make it great, although they are a part of the flavor for sure. And it's not just the people, necessarily, because there are great people everywhere. Geez, I'm going in circles. How about this? The whole was more than the sum of its parts. There. :)

And it was the worst because, basically, life just happens. I battled depression off and on. And my parents' marriage ended during my senior year. I had a senior recital to prepare for, and was trying to make plans for after graduation, so I was basically just keeping it together there at the end. I didn't really deal with that whole thing until a couple years after college, so in a sense, it didn't really affect my life at WBC. Or I should say...the geographic distance helped to keep the home reality separate from the school reality.

We talked about that a little today. The sad stuff, it seems so long ago. But when we talked about the good stuff - the funny stories - I laughed and remembered like it was yesterday. That's a good thing, I think. Stories about snow days...when classes would be cancelled, and it seemed like practically everyone spent practically the entire day outside making snowmen and getting in snow ball fights. And stories about dorm antics...things involving toilet paper, and highlighters, and Ramen noodles, and wearing various items of clothing for purposes they were not intended for.

But upon further reflection, my favorite stories really capture the essence of who were were at the time. Listening to Maggie sing one of her hilarious original songs in chapel. (By the way, you should be so lucky.) Or when a group of us had t-shirts made that said "Williams Pickleball", and wore them all on the same day, and convinced a handful of people that there actually was a pickleball team and they could sign up. And they wanted to, some of them. In fact, the jig was up when they really wanted to sign up and wouldn't drop it and so I finally had to tell them, sorry, it was a joke. Or the day that there was a crazy hat competition in the cafeteria during supper, and I convinced Maggie to climb up on my shoulders and be my "crazy hat." And we won. Goofy stuff. Ridiculous, most of it. And recalling these stories first I felt the sharp pangs of embarrassment.

But driving home from that wonderfully sweet and too-short visit, I asked myself, "What would 2010 Rachel think of 1998 Rachel and her friends, if I encountered them today?" And folks, I gotta tell ya...

I would think you were fabulous! I would see what a rare treasure you had in being so gloriously UN-self-conscious. So fabulously and boldly yourself. Or at least, yourself-as-far-as-you-could-figure-at-the-time. Because isn't that all that we ever are? We are ourselves, to the best of our ability and with the data we have at the time. Because I still had some major questions about myself and my faith that I needed to ask. I found some answers for some of them, and the others - well, I'm just more comfortable with them now. And in the process, I got to know myself and my God in a new and better way. But back then, in 1998, I had 1998 data. And grace. Tons of grace.

Today I have 2010 data, and so I act like 2010. I'm a wife, a mama, a home owner. I am what 1998 Rachel viewed with more than a little ambivalence. I am...deep breath...a GROWN UP. Yikes. Seeing grown ups from this perspective (as one) makes it easier to be one. I know now that we're not all lame, or bitter, or half-dead. (When I was younger, I was privileged to be surrounded by lots of wonderful grown ups...but I was also afraid of becoming sour, or boring, like some of the others I knew.)

And being a grown up, thinking about myself in college...I can only pray that someday my sweet little girl will be given the opportunity to have such wonderful and like-minded friends who allow her to be herself, to the best of her ability and with the data she has at the time. If she does, then she'll be alright.

So here's your question...what would you want to tell yourself "back then"?