Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hearts In My Heart

Homecomings at the college where I work are three full days of fun--for the alumni, anyway.

For the staff, homecomings are several months of preparation that escalates into lots of work then into pure stress as the weekend approaches. We want the hundreds of graduates who are coming back to have a great time reconnecting with their old classmates and teachers. We want every event, every meal, every publication, every moment to be perfect.

That means that by the time the actual event rolls around many of us are just a tetch crabby. We are over-tired, and our brains are so filled with details we're beginning to worry that our hats won't fit. Frankly, we just want to get through the weekend to the nap we know is at the other end.

But then something wonderful happens. We start to see the people instead of the party. I've worked here long enough that I have honest-to-goodness friends in the returning classes, and I begin to run into them.

Here's a new trustee, whose wife was my first student assistant and set the bar mighty high for all who have come after her. And there's Chop, a gorgeous brunette now working in community development who is as radiant and warm as she was when she wrote hometown news releases for me. I turn around at one reception to see Em, now doing "my" job at another college. Sleeping in Boy#4's bedroom are one of my all-time favorite students and her new husband.

I remember with a pang the young man who updated our websites and was essentially my Boy#5, and who died this year, unexpectedly and unfairly and far too young.

It's a weekend of bearhugs and laughter and occasional tears.

Twice over the weekend our choir sang a lovely song with lyrics taken from a poem by e.e.cummings. "I carry your heart with me," it starts, "(I carry it in my heart.)" As I listened I thought of all the students who have passed through my life in the past 14 years.

Homecoming reminds me why I love my job. These students will have many jobs after they graduate, and soon  this line will drop off their resumes altogether. That's fine with me. Long after they have forgotten that they ever worked in the public relations office, I remember. I carry their hearts with me.

1 comment:

  1. My high school graduation is next weekend and I enjoyed this post.