We took a road trip to DC last weekend to see two of our best friends graduate from Georgetown. I had the alma mater stuck in my head from the moment we came in on Canal Road and saw Healy Tower’s “spires and steeples gleaming.” And though we are loyal fellows up at Yale, we did minimal bragging and boasting about our Boola-Boola.
Road tripping with a thirteen month-old is an experience, to say the least. Somehow a five-hour drive became a nine-hour one on the way down. A Chick-Fil-A stop followed by a brief vomit-related catastrophe off the New Jersey Turnpike may have had something to do with it. There may have also been some friendly bickering about the proper name of Interstate 95. I maintain all freeways need the definitive article, “the.”
Anyway, our relief was palpable as we drove in to Georgetown late Wednesday night (even though Christopher made it a very, very late night). We were happy to stay in the basement apartment of the Res House, a men’s house where Chris and many of our other friends lived. For the next three days, we were busy, busy, busy, running around campus and trying to fit in as many “hellos” as we could while still trying to maintain some sort of a nap time for Christopher, who would rather have run around the lawn all day anyway.
It was fun to introduce him to our place and it threw the whole campus into a new light. The lawn where we frolicked (responsibly) on Georgetown day is now also the place where we played hide-and-go-seek with him around the big tree. We had lunch with Fr. Fields, one of our dear professors and mentors, on the top floor of the Jesuit Residence where Chris organized a big surprise for me on our first Valentine’s Day. Christopher played 52-pick-up with him as we sat and chatted at the table where we had eaten our special dinner not too long ago.
But the campus has changed, not least with the new Healey Family Student Center, which is one of my new favorite spots on campus. Tons of seating! Outlets! A living wall (whatever that means)! Fire pits! There’s a changing table in the bathroom! Chris and I commented that we would have had so many fun dates on the patio looking out over the Potomac. We held a lot of friend meet-ups in the cool air conditioning since Christopher loved running around the main hall and, unfortunately, loved discovering all of the outlets too.
Graduation itself was unexpectedly moving, despite intentionally only venturing into the swamp-like conditions to see our R- and S-named friends walk across the stage and skipping the rest. I cried a little when their names were called. (#momlife) They were freshmen when I was a senior and were/are integral to our posse. We daydream about picking a city in which to live together one day and I think it’s crazy enough to work. The whole day turned into a reunion with unexpected dear friends and even one of my favorite teachers who puts the nutty in professor in the best possible way.
Chris and I were both wondering what it would feel like to be back on campus. We only graduated two and three years ago, respectively, but a lot has changed in our lives since we were lowly undergraduates. I found that any anticipated longing to go back has made a smooth transition into nostalgia. Part of me misses the zeal of college: running around campus for class and ministry meetings, the constant adrenaline rush of procrastination mixed with caffeine, staying up being ridiculous with friends or talking theology until 2:00am, frenzied journaling about whether I was supposed to be a missionary or get married to a yet-to-be-met suitor. But that nervous, earnest energy also buzzed with insecurity and scrupulosity.
Life feels peaceful compared to those exciting but strung out days of undergrad; the peace isn’t only in my slower pace of life but in my search for grace and Christ’s search for me. I went to Dahlgren Chapel to pray during some brief downtime on Saturday before watching my friends walk across the stage with their diplomas. Kneeling in front of the tabernacle (something I never would have done in undergrad), looking at the pelican engraving adorning it, I realized Christ is making me new in quiet ways, the gradual feeling of which probably would have frustrated me in college. With a quieter life comes a recognition that holiness is a quiet and humble affair. It’s not only doing great things for God; it’s doing small things with love.
After I put Christopher down for a nap on Friday, I found a surge protector in the Res House with my maiden name on it. I got a little sentimental about finding this goofy reminder of three years of late nights lounging around with my laptop on that house’s increasingly saggy couch. Soon no one will know it was mine, when I graduated, or even who I was. It was a silly reminder that life on the Potomac will go on but, as time with our friends this weekend demonstrated, we’ve all left our mark on the legacy of grace that still continues at our alma mater.
We left on Sunday afternoon after Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral with some friends and lunch at Eastern Market with others. Chris and I kept each other awake during our purgatorial drive late into the night by reminiscing about the weekend. We miss it.
May Georgetown live forever.
P.S. A special shout out to Kevin and Louie. Thanks for reading my mommy blog, guys. 🙂