Monday, August 7, 2017

Beachy Weekend

Orange Beach, AL
We all met in college.

Britton might tell you she didn't like me at first because I cut to the front of the line during freshman registration. Which is only partly true.

Amy might tell you I forced her out into the cold to search for a missing dog we heard about on the radio. Which is completely true.

Beth might tell you the first time we hung out we sat up talking for hours. Which is also totally true.

We all lived on the same floor in James Annex, each with different roommates. But we met by chance and decided to make our resident adviser crazy by shuffling three different rooms, affecting more than half a dozen people, a move hardly rivaled when it comes to NBA trades!

That was the Great Roommate Swap of 1995, celebrated with a snack of ding dongs and milk because that's all we had handy. I'm pretty sure someone's mother sent them to us in a care package. Probably Amy's.

More than two decades later, we still talk about that night and the countless adventures we've had since. The most recent, a beachy birthday weekend on the Gulf Coast.

I caught a quick flight Friday to Pensacola where the girls picked me up and the relaxation began! Whenever I'm around them, my walls come down and we immediately drag out the old stories from college and continue the razzing that started 22 years ago.

Not even a little rain could dampen our time together. Lounging around, a dip in the ocean, fancy dinner, birthday cake, card games, even sweaty miniature golf, it was a short weekend that was big on good times and tons of laughs.

Now we're back to real life filled with work, kids and other obligations. But after the girls took me back to the airport and we hugged our goodbyes, it only took five minutes to get the text, "I miss you already!"

Thursday, July 20, 2017

History Lessons

Washington, D.C. is by far my favorite city in which to be a tourist.  So when I was invited to the capital last weekend, naturally I jumped at the chance. Even before I landed Friday afternoon, I knew I wanted to wander through the monuments at night!

But I wasn't always so gung-ho.

Lincoln Memorial
History was not a subject that interested me as a student at any level. The last history class I took was a two-parter: American History through 1877 and American History 1877 to Present. I never bothered to learn why why 1877 was such a pivotal year to switch syllabi. I don't remember my professors ever making it that far. Likewise, we never made it to modern history. Essentially, I learned the same stories repeatedly from elementary school through college (which thankfully was abbreviated during that beauty of higher education: summer school).

Sadly, not one educator was ever able to bring history to life for me.

Lincoln's second inaugural speech, 1865

I can't pinpoint the moment that all changed, but suffice to say I'm now a complete sucker for everything from antebellum homes with creaking, polished wood floors to cold marble monuments, gleaming beneath floodlights, etched with immortal words.

I love sterile museums that smell of oil paint and dusty light bulbs, ancient libraries with the musty odor of mildew and well-loved books, and documentaries that teach me what I don't remember from a lifetime of boring lectures and scribbling notes straight from the chalkboard.

My deepest apologies to Mr. Bolin from First Baptist Church School who tried so hard to teach me world history, American history, even Louisiana history in the late 1980's and early 1990's. You'll be happy to know that, at long last, I get it.

I didn't get to capture nearly as many pictures as I wanted this time, but I will be back in Washington soon. Seeing this stuff never gets old!

U.S. Capitol

Washington Monument
Just the most fabulous bicycle in DC!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm?

When I lived in Shreveport, I thought I would never leave. I grew up there. All my friends were there. My future was there. Right?

As a child in the back seat of my parents' car, we would drive past a little campus at the corner Kings Highway and Centenary Boulevard, one square mile around from start to finish. My mom says I always announced to no one in particular, "that's where I'm going to school."

In 1995, most of my friends went away to college, places like LSU or Louisiana Tech, some farther. As for me, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, I drove myself right up the street to Centenary College and moved into James Dorm and stayed until 1999.

My dad wanted me to leave town for a bigger school, by my heart and mind were made up.

The first lesson I learned as a freshman at Centenary is perhaps the one I remember best: your true friends see past everything else, straight to your heart. The people I met in the first weeks of school are still the ones I call my besties.

The four years I spent at Centenary were some of the greatest of my life. They were the most fulfilling days, with friends, parties, sororities, fraternities, classes, professors. I found a freedom I did not know existed outside my mother's house, even though I never left my home town.

I stayed in the dorm until they kicked me out for the holidays, and I was one of the first to return when they swung the doors open once again.

Centenary was more than just an institution of higher learning. It was a safe haven, a shelter from the storm that was life at home.

My alma mater helped me grow as a person, realize the strength in my own independence, even landed me the internship that led to a rewarding 20-year career (and counting).

Then came that day when home was no longer home. It was time to leave Shreveport and Centenary behind and see what else was out there.

My father used to quote a song from World War I that I never fully understood growing up.

"How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree?" he would ask me.

I get it now, Dad, and you'll be happy to know that Centenary students get to travel to Paris their freshman year!