Some Things Never Change

Nearly four years have passed since I crossed the platform in my cap and gown to receive my degree from Hillsdale College. During those four years, I’ve visited the campus precisely three times: twice on my own to recruit new teachers for my school and once for the sole purpose of walking around the grounds with my new husband while eating an Oakley.

The campus has changed so much in those four short years: not a trace remains of the horrible, asbestos-infested Kresge classroom building, and the new student center supplies current co-eds with so much comfort and luxury that I CAN’T believe they’re getting the same quality of education that students enjoyed when they had to suffer through the EAR…and the EAR couples.

Suffering was an essential element of the Hillsdale experience: Suffering disappointment when some jock ahead of you in line took all the triangle potatoes at breakfast; suffering physical discomfort because of the smell of the fellow sitting next to you in the computer lab; suffering through the awkwardness of the housekeeper coming in to vacuum while you’re wrapped in a towel or, worse, just starting to get dressed; suffering intense embarrassment while you waited in the EAR for your friends to meet you for dinner and an EAR couple started snogging on a couch ten inches from your face…those were the good days!

Delp Hall: I used to deliver scones here a week before final exams

Some changes, such as the turn over in faculty, are bitter sweet. For example, I can no longer visit Delp Hall in hopes of dropping by Dr. Cuneo’s office for a chat. He’s gone on to become an Eastern Orthodox priest, though, and I’m sure he’s thriving in his new role. Some, like the venerable John Willson, have retired. Others have simply moved on. However, in a few short months, I look forward to knowing that one of those faculty offices is occupied by a dear and brilliant friend, Matthew Gaetano, who is joining the history department. When his then-fiance, now-wife Amy and I sat in our third story room in Mauck hall sipping tea and struggling to pronounce passages of Old English properly, we knew that some day she would join the ranks of enviable professors wives (so sophisticated! so talented in the kitchen! so intellectually active!). How pleasant it is to think that there will be familiar faces on that campus for some time to come.

And a brief glance through the headlines of the latest edition of the Collegian show that despite the inevitable marching on of years, some things will never change at Hillsdale College.

There are still those that protest against dancing in public: Monday Night Fever (sorry, Beyonce).

The deans are still making those difficult choices about which students can be deemed responsible: Woman RA’s Selected (though, to be honest, I’m not really sure why this qualifies as “news”)

And, best of all, the social ritual of tea-drinking that Allison, Amy, and I discovered during our freshman year is still going strong: Some like it Loose-Leaf and Campus Tea Culture (TWO feature pieces on DRINKING TEA….incredible).

But I suppose it’s only fair to note that Hillsdale isn’t the only thing that changed over the past four years. As much as I miss the classes, the culture and, of course, the people, on any given day, I know that I’ve changed far too much to be able to relive those days. While I miss my darling roommates, I’ve grown accustomed to having more than one room of living space. And while I miss my fascinating professors, I’m much better at delivering lectures now than I am at taking notes. And even though I miss Oakley with indescribable longing, I’m grateful to be done with the days when purchasing a sandwich represented a daring act of fiscal irresponsibility.

Thank you, staff of the Collegian, for the trip down memory lane. Now, it’s time to get back to work.

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4 Comments

Filed under Friendship, Teaching

4 responses to “Some Things Never Change

  1. Megan

    Heartwarming, Laurel. Thanks for such a good morning tea (let’s be honest, it’s coffee now) break!

  2. Megan! Lovely to hear from you. And, though I didn’t want to mention it, I too was sipping coffee as I wrote this morning. Decaf. But, still…

  3. What a glorious post that both celebrates the nostalgia for Hillsdale and reminds me about how glad I am to have moved forward.

  4. It doesn’t cease to surprise me how different your college experience was from mine. When I think of living in the dorms, I think of gross co-ed bathrooms, never being allowed a full night of sleep, and that ever-pervasive smell that was a mix of weed and stale beer sweat. Unsavory, I know, but the truth often is. Though, I do recall lovely hikes through the redwoods, and the fog, and the friendship :0) Each experience good in its’ own way.

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