By the time you have your 35th college reunion, the Alumni Association figures that you should be successful enough to fall into the category of "Potential Donor". I am sure that was the thinking when it was announced that our class's private reunion would be hosted at the President's home on campus. And, when I learned the soiree would be in the lovely garden rather than in the house, I assumed that even after 35 years they thought it best to keep us out of the house lest we break anything of value and to keep them from having to put away the fine silver. But I digress.
If you not familiar with the College of Charleston, the focal point of the campus is the lovely Cistern, a walled in area under ancient live oaks in front of Randolph Hall. This is the setting for graduation. And the breathtaking southern beauty of this local has ranked CofC on the list of The Top Ten Most Beautiful Commencement locations. It is just as gorgeous for the Charleston Affair, the Alumni Reunion for all classes hosted under the oaks the Saturday night prior to graduation.
Since 1900 this event has taken place. And as the college has grown, so has the celebration. Now, crystal chandeliers magically hang from the oak trees, Randolph Hall is bathed in colorful lights and the lawn under the oaks is graced with linen covered tables where alums and their guests can enjoy the food and beverages being served from the many white tents set about housing food stations and bars. A band plays on the large elevated stage that has been put up in preparation for commencement.
When I first arrived Saturday night I walked into the Cistern to see this incredible sight. I had seen pictures of the event in the past, but seeing it live and in color was a something I found amazing. Walking around, it was hard to take it all in. This is the 13th oldest college in the country and this area has sat basically unchanged in all that time - how special is that? But, my classmates were down the street at the elegant President's house where we were being feted our own private event. There would be time for the big party later.
As I walked down Glebe street I saw folks filtering into the President's gates. None of them looked familiar. In fact looking at them, it dawned on me that several classes must have been assigned to this venue. We were the class of 1981, this looked like these folks may be the classes of 1971 or maybe 1966 (for their 45th and 50th reunions respectfully). Scary thought - in only 10 years we would be celebrating our 45th and look like them. But, they were pretty spry for their ages.
A good friend of mine was greeting everyone as we entered the garden. It was only then that I realized, no, this was just our class. These were not the classes of 1971 or 1966 - these were my classmates. These folks that I had pegged as in their mid to late 60's were my peers. Dear God, we were all old. Let's see we were 21 years old when we graduated, and 35 years later, um that is that "New" math that never adds up correctly. Hell, instead of the young friends I remembered and looked forward to catching up with, this was going to be a group of grandparents.
In my mind I was still that young girl who came to Charleston in 1977. Granted I had a better hair style, much better taste in clothes, was a bit smaller, a bit grayer and more wrinkled than I was then. I just didn't see myself as being that "old". Maybe I was in denial, if so, I would keep my head in the sand. If you are as good as you feel, I was doing pretty well. At least I could keep the charade going in my head, if I just didn't choke on the sand.