kenyon homecoming middle path

the entrance to campus as you follow Middle Path

I had forgotten how good it feels to wake up in a beautiful place. This weekend I visited my alma mater, Kenyon College, and received a warm reminder. Walking out of the hotel and onto the tree-lined path that stretches through campus, I felt completely at home. The crocuses had started to bloom a week before, Amish women were selling quilts and baskets, and Adirondack chairs just begged to be sat on. The company of friends and sisters sweetened every cup of coffee.

I always have mixed feelings about returning to such a beloved past home. During my first year as an alumna, I couldn’t quite believe that the community continued to exist without me. This place had been my world for four years, but my departure wasn’t even a blip on its radar. That year, I wanted to be missed. I hadn’t quite found a home in my new life, and Kenyon was the only place I knew I fit in. Even as I recognized the silly selfishness of that feeling, realizing that I was just another transient college student hurt.

women of gambier brunch flowers

brunch bouquets + the history of women at the college + riot grrrl movement

The college community is a strange place where, as much as things change, they seem to stay the same. I realized this year that the community moves on because it has to. Even with the coming and going of members every year, its values and character do not change. New people take up the torch, invest their love and laughter for four or more years, and carry this place in their hearts when they leave.

On Day 3 of my visit, nostalgia finally knocked down the tentative barrier I’d put up between myself and my old home. Surrounded by generations of students, staff, faculty, and community members at the annual Women of Gambier Brunch, I felt at once incredibly at home and incredibly awash. Hosted by the women’s center where I lived and worked in college, this event brought together so many things I love about the Kenyon experience: being part of traditions, hearing life stories, celebrating with food, belonging in a nurturing space open to all members of the community.

sisters snuggling

my sisters!

Nothing could have prepared me for how I felt when I saw my sisters. It was our sorority’s alumnae weekend, so I reunited with dear old friends and met the girls who are continuing our tradition on campus. Even though we keep in touch, being together in person felt like we actually caught up. These women watched me grow up and grew up with me. We share absurd inside jokes, sarcastic expressions that translate to love, and an unconditional connection no matter where life takes us.

This weekend was the sum of fulfilling and heart-wrenching. It was a reminder of the relationships that have sustained and supported me through a road that is all kinds of bumpy. It was an embrace I sorely needed. Most of all, it was an affirmation that this place will always exist, in equal parts exactly as I remember and completely different. It was coming home.

About Humble Foodie

While we both love to eat well, life as AmeriCorps volunteers doesn’t afford us the budget to try every new restaurant and type of cuisine. With many post-graduate expenses and limited financial resources, what’s a foodie to do? The answer is here, at The Humble Foodie. Instead of spending our hard-earned cash paying other people to cook for us, we’re spending as frugally as possible making delicious meals at home.
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8 Responses to Homecoming

  1. I’ve heard so much about Kenyon from Beth, Katie, and Kate that I feel like I’ve nearly been there myself! We used to joke that they would be back a Kenyon t-shirt for me when they visited each Spring. It sounds like a place filled to the brim with support, community, and students that are passionate and involved. I went to University of Michigan, so the small liberal arts college scene is rather unfamiliar to me, but as I’ve gotten older I can see that it’s an environment that I would have flourished in during such formative years. You’re so lucky to have this place in your past and future.

    Welcome home!

    Saturday night is starred, in bold, and underlined in my calendar!!

    • Alicia says:

      I can’t wait for Saturday, and thanks for the warm welcome home! Unpacking my suitcase is the last task on the horizon, and we’ll see if I can accomplish it before this weekend…

      And yes, the liberal arts environment is incredibly nurturing. Being back on campus felt like being in the coziest of homes again. I loved meeting people who are carrying on traditions that I started or became a part of with friends at school. Kenyon loves writing, so we’ll have to design some Kenyon bloggers shirts for your souvenir! 🙂

  2. I need to make a trip to my alma mater Penn State! This past weekend was Blue & White weekend, aka the football team scrimmages and tons of alumni come and tailgate, and I was super sad to miss it.

    • Alicia says:

      It’s always nice to go back at the same time as other alums so you can meet up with old friends. Kenyon’s football team was never super competitive, so I missed out on the big school athletic focus. I would love to have that tailgate experience sometime!

  3. Sounds like an awesome and needed trip, Alicia!! Kenyon College is so beautiful. I went to high school in Westerville, Ohio (a burb of Columbus) and was very active with the Episcopal church — so was familiar with Kenyon from that side of things and had several friends that went there.

    • Alicia says:

      Hey, small world! It’s so cool that you’ve heard of Kenyon. It was absolutely a much needed trip- but you know those times when you spend the weekend traveling, return home, and think “Wow, I really need a weekend to recover!”? That’s how I feel now. 🙂

  4. BethW says:

    I can’t wait to hear more! I would have loved to go to this years reunion, but with the 5 year reunion coming up in May for the class of 08, I ended up skipping this trip. Kenyon looks gorgeous, as usual!

    • Alicia says:

      We definitely missed you! I can’t wait to catch up on Saturday. Part of me is tempted to crash the five year and be “that kid” lurking around campus, just so I can see you, Shannon, and the other women coming back!

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