Friday, April 4, 2014

No. 62 – White, Discussion

Performer: Live
Songwriters: Ed Kowalcyzk, Chad Taylor, Patrick Dahlheimer, Chad Gracey
Original Release: Throwing Copper
Year: 1994
Definitive Version: The studio version.

I’ve written a lot over the past 2-1/2 years about Wabash, which makes sense given how formative my time there was in almost every way—even musically. I suppose it comes as no surprise that my relationship with my alma mater has continued after graduation.

That post-graduate relationship started almost right away when, as part of a project at Northwestern, I went back to Crawfordsville to do a story on the town itself. It felt strange being back and seeing people and places who had been so important to me but now weren’t really part of my life any more. I felt simultaneously at home and like an outsider.

I went back for my fifth and 10th reunions, the latter in October 1996 with Debbie, whom I showed the campus for the first time. I was amazed how much had changed in what seemed to be a short time.

Lilly library had undergone a massive expansion out back that led to the creation of an amazing study area, where, in stadium fashion, you could sit in rows of desks overlooking the first-floor shelves from as high as the third floor with West facing windows that had sunlight pouring in. Yandes Hall, home of WNDY was almost completely rebuilt as the Detchon Center, and WNDY was gone.

Then there was the Allen Athletics Center, a new athletic facility that blocked off the back way out Crawford Street to where I used to live my sophomore year. I couldn’t get over all the changes. I thought Wabash was timeless, but it turned out I was there just before a huge refreshing that continues to this day.

I was glad to see that not everything had changed, however. The Goodrich Room at the library, with all the names of the great philosophers of the world engraved in granite on the walls, was the same. So was Center Hall, even down to the wood and cement steps that remained bowed by thousands of student footsteps over the years—mine included.

Some friendships remained intact, too. During my 10th reunion, I bumped into Brian, whom I hadn’t seen since graduation. We’d lost touch over the years, but that weekend, it was like we’d never been apart. We all stayed at the Holiday Inn in Crawfordsville, and he and I went down to the bar to watch the World Series as Debbie begged off.

It was like it was 1985 all over again, and he said at one point that the measure of the quality of a friendship is how easily and quickly you fit back together after a long break. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen Brian since, and we again have lost touch, but I’m hopeful that should our paths cross again, we’ll find that what he said in 1996 holds true.

Two years later, Debbie and I went back to Wabash. The occasion was a panel discussion on how a Wabash liberal arts education could be applied to the study of journalism and the media. It was part of a larger learning program involving alumni. I was one of the alums asked to take part in the media panel, and I accepted the generous invitation.

It was a great weekend, which included a luncheon in Forest Hall, the original campus building, with Andy Ford, the president of the college. I felt like a bigwig, and I was particularly excited when I stepped onto the stage in the Chapel, where the panel discussion was held. I was peppered a couple of times with questions from the audience, including one knowing one from a former WNDY colleague who now worked for the college (and still does). It was a blast.

Unfortunately, things change, and time marches on. I missed my 15th reunion due to my breakup with Debbie. (I wasn’t in the mood to celebrate anything.) I skipped my 20th due to scheduling and my 25th due to inertia.

The last time I was at Wabash was in 2002 when I went with Matt, my old roommate, just for something to do. We went with Matt’s sons for a weekend, took in a football game and hiked past our old apartment—the one where I thought one night in March 1986 I was going to die. It still was there, albeit painted bright blue. No word on whether Karen and Marianne still lived upstairs.

One thing I wanted to do on this particular trip was find my brick on the Alumni Terrace outside Forest Hall. I’d donated enough money and had my name inscribed on a brick in the terrace along with my class—1986—but Matt and I couldn’t find it that weekend, which was a disappointment.

Well, I have to go back and find it, don’t I? The college continues to change, and I continue to donate money to as I have since graduation (except for the three years I was unemployed 2003–2006 ). I have to take Laurie, who said she wants to go and see everything, although—obviously—it’s not going to be like it was when I was there.

Fortunately, Matt’s oldest son is graduating this year from Wabash in a few weeks. I have an excuse to go back, and … it’s time.

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