Friday, September 19, 2008

On Facebook and Reconnecting

This week on Facebook has brought a flurry of activity among the 1980s crowd at my college. I went to a very small private college in upper East Tennessee. I guess there were probably 800 students at Milligan then; now enrollment is close to 1,000. At a college that size, you pretty much know everyone. Add to the size factor that nearly everyone lived on campus (commuters were extremely rare) and that our campus was a town itself (Milligan College has its own post office), and, well, it's not surprising that we connect instantly on Facebook some 20 years (more or less) later.

So I've been dreaming about college for the past three nights. You know those college nightmares in which you panic because you have a final exam to take and realize that you haven't been to class all semester? Those are exhausting dreams. I wake feeling unsettled and stressed. And sometimes I wake feeling a little lost.

The big thing this week has been reminiscing about life at Pardee Hall, one of the men's dorms. Dr. H. and all our guy friends lived there. Two out of my three brothers who attended Milligan lived there. It was a dorm with a life and mythology of its own: a glorious, seedy, smelly, grimy place in which to live (or if you were dating someone in Pardee, to hang out in the lobby or dangle from a first floor window. This was Christian college = no girls allowed in boys' dorms, people.)

Tragically, Pardee was knocked down in the 1990s because it was supposedly structurally unsound. (No one really believes that silliness. The general consensus is that the administration just couldn't deal with generation after generation of Pardee Rowdies.)

This October will be my 20th reunion, and it will also be the Pardee Hall reunion. Dr. H. and I are absolutely going; we're fortunate to live just two hours away. I've been pondering this week how strong our collective memories are of that four or five year time period. I am amazed at how easily we fall back into friendships, as if these past 20 years were just a summer break. We message back and forth privately, trying to clarify who exactly that person dated, or what happened to so-and-so. The thing about a small college is that, like I said, you know everyone--or you know their older sister or their younger brother. It's a very, very small world, indeed.

And all this makes me ponder even more what my children's experiences will be in college. I blogged about that last month, about how I wish for my children to have lives filled to the brim with amazing friendships. I know not all friendships come from the college years. I have a few good friends from high school, a few from our stint in Iowa, and a whole village of amazing friends here.

But reconnecting with college classmates brings it all back so clearly: the hundreds of meals shared, the constant buzz of conversation, the anticipation of the day and night ahead, the adventure, the joy and the despair, the smell of lilacs, the perfect sunset, and the dark hump of Buffalo Mountain protecting our little campus, sheltering us in its cool black shadow.


  1. Sounds like a nice college experience! Enjoy your reunion!!

    Most of my husbands really good friends are from church. (and some of those went to the same high school of course)

    Most of my friends now are from 'adult life'. since Ionly had 1 in High School and we went very different paths and I was only in college 1 yr before getting married, LOL. And I only have 1 good friend now and we live 3 time zones apart.

    I have a good friend online and a few friends from a homeschool group. (but I'd not say GOOOD friends)

  2. hey----- by the way---- Gavin has a blog and has asked about if I now other kids with blogs thathe can read. do your boys have blogs that Gavin could read?

  3. You have summed up all of our experiences so well.

    Pardee always had that "Animal House" feel to it -- and seeing some of the pictures this week made that even more plausible.

    Did you know that my parents were being considered to be Pardee dorm parents at the same time they were being considered for Sutton?

    I think my high-school age sister was the clinch pin that sent them "up the hill."

    Pardee scared my mom, if she's honest!

  4. I was strangely attracted to Pardee guys. :) (Although Scott was Webb and then one of the "new dorms.") All my exes were Pardee, though. :)

    I was living on campus for the summer and was there the day they tore it down. It was sad to watch and the whole place was very solemn.

  5. Hey! We have gone to churches associated with Milligan! We still would be, but there just flat out aren't any in our neck of the woods. Now I have to rack my brain and think who I might know that might have gone there in the time frame you mentioned.

  6. I lived in Pardee my junior and senior years at Milligan, in the last part of the seventies & early eighties. About it being structurally sound when it was torn down: I lived on the 3rd floor and the dresser smack dab against the wall at floor level was 6 inches away from the wall at the top of the dresser. Since there was zero maintenance (e.g. front capitals on columns falling apart and dang, they couldn't even replace the shredded curtains) they're just lucky it didn't fall in and kill someone. But I wouldn't have live anywhere else.


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