The past month has been a time of both celebration and reflection, of both reunions and goodbyes with close friends, and of closure to my college days and busy preparation for the adventures ahead. Though these are all quite predictable aspects of the graduation (or Commencement, as Princeton prefers to call it) experience, it has been an intense period of time nonetheless, filled with both nostalgia and anticipation.
It all began, as Shirley Tilghman referred to it in one of her many Commencement weekend speeches, with the “hoopla of Reunions“–the truly indescribable orange and black blur of a weekend (tents, fences, bands, beer, costumes, P-Rade!, children, golf carts, fireworks, chaos). This year’s oldest returning alumnus was once again Malcolm Warnock, class of 1925 (his 85th Reunion!), who reigned stoically over the P-Rade, followed by the usual bagpipes, dogs/babies dressed as tigers, old alums sharing beers with young alums, tiger-striped cars, and witty signage. Finally, the class of 2010 rushed Poe Field to take our places as the newest Tiger alums, while all of the older classes cheered a Locomotive in our honor (Hip! Hip! Rah! Rah! Rah! Tiger! Tiger! Tiger! Sis! Sis! Sis! Boom! Boom! Boom! Ah! 2010! 2010! 2010!). The past four years, along with this final incredible weekend, brainwashed convinced me enough that I fully plan to return to Old Nassau until I am Malcolm’s age.
The superb ridiculousness of Reunions was naturally followed by “the pomp and circumstance of Commencement” (another Shirley T. phrase). Jeff Bezos ’86, CEO of Amazon.com, told us to reflect on the difference between cleverness and kindness, as we gathered in the chapel on Baccalaureate Sunday (And by the way, Jeff–just bought a Kindle to travel with next year and it’s pretty awesome. Thanks). Charlie Gibson ’65 and some of our remarkably hilarious classmates gave knee-slapping yet inspiring speeches on Class Day. And lastly, on Commencement Day, we gathered in front of Nassau Hall, sweating in our caps and gowns, to finally hear that handful of Latin words that meant we were graduates, later dispersing to collect our coveted diplomas, pose with friends and family, and exchange hugs and tears as we left campus one by one.
I returned home to Virginia, to enjoy a tiny bit of rest and to begin gearing up for my year with Princeton-in-Asia, which is set to begin this summer.
Though much of the past few weeks in Charlottesville have been spent shopping for appropriate clothing (and other essentials) for the subcontinent and doing lots of research to figure out exactly what these are, I’ve found some time to rediscover my hometown as well. Snippets of Cville life in June: wine tasting at King Family Vineyards, old friends, new restaurants, and an unexpectedly dramatic storm.
A weekend trip to DC was also in order to apply for my work visa to India (this is a yet-to-be-resolved saga in itself, which will perhaps be the subject of some future post), and I extended the trip to visit with friends, who have slowly been amassing in “the District” to join the ranks of “the Real World” (the one involving post-grad jobs, rather than the reality show). Among the highlights of the weekend: a visit to the National Zoo, a visit to a friend’s Northern Virginia farm, and a late-night excursion to the monuments.