the wonderful world of veena.

14 October 2014

40 of 52: celebrating old friends, reunions, and memphis.

Wow. I have so many words to share, and I'm not quite sure where to begin, so bear with me.

This past weekend was both exhilarating and exhausting, and I would not trade it for anything. It was Homecoming weekend at Rhodes, which also meant that my class was celebrating its 10 Year Reunion. Ten years! Ten years since we graduated, since we became "adults", since we set out to find our place in the world. Sometimes it feels like forever ago, but most days it feels like it was just yesterday.

To celebrate, a number of friends returned to Memphis for our reunion events. We had a fantastic committee of our classmates who planned and organized a Saturday night event downtown, but from Thursday on I was running around to see people who were in town and to catch up, however briefly, on people's lives.

To kick things off, Katie Walsh hosted a get-together at her house on Thursday evening. It was a great way to ease into seeing everyone, and it was a blast to catch up with people from DC to New Mexico and everywhere in-between. We broke out the Power Hour [I won $1] and the Jello shots, and the night ended with a trip to Taco Bell on my way home, so you know it was a rousing success.

[faces pictures from our first year at rhodes. not only were we absolute babies, but we were also very clearly on the forefront of fashion]
[and this is what we look like now: still young-enough looking, still having a blast, and still distracted by shiny objects]
On Friday I headed to campus early in the afternoon to stop by the Bonner-Kinney get-together. While I was not a service scholar during my Rhodes days, I was quite involved with the Kinney program and participated in a number of volunteer opportunities. Walt Tennyson, a current staff member, very sweetly invited me to their reception, and I was more than glad to stop by, have a few free snacks, and meet the current crop of service scholars.

From there I ventured over to the field hockey game. Not only were they at home for the weekend, but earlier in the afternoon Lee Thomas [now Harring] was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame, so I wanted to get there in time for her to be mentioned at halftime. Lee and I were in the same pledge class back in the fall of 2000, and she is the first Rhodes Field Hockey player to be inducted into the HOF. She still holds a number of records, including goals scored, and it was great to see her, meet her family, and watch her be honored.

[lee t getting honored at halftime of the field hockey game. so proud of her]
[posing with maggie, future lynx cat field hockey star]
Later on Friday there was a reception at the Rat that included free food, an open bar, and lots of friends from across a number of years. It was a blast, I made friends with Theo the bartender, and the bacon and ranch pizza was a big hit for my stomach.

[i figure i should take lots of pictures of the library since i had to live through its construction]
I wrapped up Friday night with dinner at Huey's with Cait and Wes, Bridgette and Chris, and Shelley and Ashton. We laughed a lot, stuffed our faces with cheese fries, and enjoyed some friendly toothpick-shooting competition between Cait and Wes [they both eventually got theirs to stick in the ceiling, but it took a few tries and a bit of strategery]. It was great to spend some individualized time with all of them, and I loved introducing Wes and Chris to the glory that is Huey's.

[that's the look of someone ready to gloat about his toothpick-shooting skills]
Saturday dawned pretty early as Bromert and I got to campus early to snag a good parking spot and to hit up the brunch at the KD house. We got to meet some of the current members, enjoy Chick-fil-A nuggets, and look through some entertaining scrapbook pictures from our shining Kappa Delta days. It was great to take a walk down memory lane and to catch up with ladies from across the generations.

[from mr shamrock, spring 2002. wow]
[kappa delta pledge class of 2000 before our revelation string-along. still on display in a frame in the house] 
[pledge classes '97, '98, and '00 represent. we just needed someone from '99 to complete the circle] 
[you can't be in a sorority house and not pull out the "sorority girl" pose. fyi, this was entirely shelley's idea]
While on our way to the picnic in the Rat, Bromert, Jenny Dill, and I peeked into Williford. Bromert's old room is now occupied by boys [!!], and mine was a messy slophole that made me very reminiscent of my days living there with Leland.

The picnic was fantastic, partly because of the company but also because of the Gus's, Corky's, and Fino's up for grabs. We certainly learned to eat well during our Rhodes days, and this was no exception. We finished up in time to catch the Homecoming Parade as it passed by and enjoyed cheering for the floats and scavenging for the candy they were tossing out [I cleaned up big time].

Before the football game, Bromert and I headed over to see the women's soccer game. I stayed through halftime [they eventually won] and then made my way over to the beer garden in time for kickoff. Friends slowly rolled in, and we caught up over some Jackalope and some football [and I spent a lot of time with baby Evelyn, because let's be honest, she was the one I was most happy to see].

[this girl and her nose scrunches make my heart so happy]
Once the game was over and we had beaten Sewanee for the 3rd year in a row, I made a quick stop at Walker and Joe's [where I was pet-sitting and staying for the weekend] to let the dog out, change for the evening, and catch the 2nd quarter of the Arkansas-Alabama game.

I hitched my way downtown with Walshie and met Cait, Wes, Bridgette, and Chris for dinner at Blues City Cafe. Still my favourite ribs in the city, and I can't think of many people I would rather have shared that meal with.

We opted to walk from there to Earnestine & Hazel's, stopping along the way for a sobering moment to take a look at the National Civil Rights Museum. As Wes and Chris had never seen it before, we thought it would be a fitting stop.

E&H was a blast, and I was so happy to see how many people came. The music was rocking, the drinks were flowing, and I got to chat with a number of people I have not seen in the 10 years since we walked across the stage in Fisher Garden and received our diplomas. I was all over the place trying to talk to as many people as I could, and it really was such a great party. Kudos to Walshie, Julie, and the rest of the committee for pulling all of that together and making our reunion party one for the ages.

[finally a picture with eli and will where eli is not wearing his quintessential blue shirt. at one point I was pretty convinced he slept in it]
[love these kids so very much]
As per usual, we went from there to Silky's around 11.30pm. I made the walk with Robert Edgecombe, which I loved. He is one of my favourites from our class, and I loved having that little bit of one-on-one time with him during the weekend. Silky's, as expected, was quite the shitshow, but it was fabulous. The piano guys played a few songs just for us, and it felt like we were back in college again.

[pretty well sums up our silky's visit]
[with robert. he's good people]
I somehow ended up staying almost to the end and found myself in a group of people headed to Raiford's for the after-after-party. On the walk over I made my confession: I had never actually been to Raiford's before. I was underage all through my Rhodes days, and I managed to not be in groups that went there in the years since we graduated. It was definitely an experience I will not soon forget, and I had a blast out on that dance floor, but I think the smoke and the $15 entrance fee are enough to ensure I probably won't be there again anytime soon. It was, however, a great way to wrap up the night.

[there's a first time for everything, i guess] 
[out on the dance floor with these two] 
[dance floor decorations]
But wait, we're not quite finished. Walshie dropped me off around 3.45am and I crashed for a few hours, but I was up and at 'em on Sunday morning to have breakfast with Christina [she's my hero of the week for making me bacon] and to head back to Rhodes for one last informal get-together. There were about 16 former field hockey players in town for Homecoming, so they had an alum scrimmage on Sunday morning. Christina and I went and enjoyed some beverages while heckling from the sidelines, and it was quite the entertaining affair.

[field hockey alums and coaches. well done, ladies]
Phew. Even just recounting all of the events wears me out, and I'm still not sure how I survived it all. My feet are still hurting [I tried to go for a walk yesterday, and my arches straight up revolted], and I imagine it will take the entire week to catch up on my sleep, but it was probably the most perfect reunion weekend I could have imagined. Yes, there were a number of absent friends I would have loved to see and catch up with, and no, I didn't get as much quality time with some people as I would have liked, but overall it was pretty perfect. Every event went off without a hitch, I made some new friends and caught up with lots of old ones, and the field hockey, women's soccer, football, and men's soccer teams all won their games [Rhodes Athletics has come a long way since our undergraduate days]. I have no complaints.

other highlights included: Team Rhodes kickoff for the St Jude Marathon; spent a few days hanging out with Emily and Joe's pets while they were out of town; house to myself for a few days to recover.

A huge thank you to everyone who made it back to town to celebrate, and hats off to everyone who worked their asses off to make it a celebration we'll never forget. Roll on, Lynx Cats.

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