On Saturday I went to alumni weekend. I nibbled dry pastries at an international brunch, listened to boring speeches at an award ceremony, schmoozed with staff at the alumni center, attended an “uncommon core” class on the nature of happiness, listened to the university president drone on like a highly polished politician, and drank really crappy wine at a “wine tasting.” And I had a ball.
The University of Chicago glimmering green in the drizzle, gigantic swirling gray sky, stormy cobalt lake, flagstones solid underfoot, dewy-eyed students on every corner.
I’ve developed an inferiority complex in the years since I graduated from college. That, or we can call it low self-esteem. It’s just that sometimes I have to pinch myself – I can’t believe that I was accepted to, studied at, and graduated from the University of Chicago. Like that fact should somehow make me in awe of myself, except that these days, I usually can’t believe that it was me, that that’s where I learned and grew and blossomed and developed into myself. Since my convocation, the memory of Chicago, the nostalgia, the mythos, have all increased to legendary proportions, so much so that although I dream of returning to graduate school, I’ve convinced myself that my alma mater would never take me back. There’s a whole “paradise lost” phenomenon at work here. Love and alienation.
On this visit, I felt welcome. I felt at home. The anticipated, “everyone has done more, seen more, accomplished more, made more than I have,” feeling never came. In its stead a real sense of inspiration. Thank goodness. Inspiration to continue doing the difficult things I find important, and inspiration to change a lot of what is problematic with my life. It sounds silly. But thank god for alumni weekends. I may still have a place in the world.
Thank you, Chicago.