I grew up in Salt Lake City Utah. A place where people who look like me made up less than 1% of the population. I left Utah for a school where people who looked like them was less than 1%. Mind and body cultural shock, Howard University in our nation's capital. The from Utah on campus population in 1982, exactly one, me.
I chose Howard it did not choose me. Once we got to know one another, I received a full academic scholarship. A bit of Utah in the mix could not be a bad thing or so they prayed. I I did not disappoint, quite to the contrary. I excelled! Fast forward 32 years. HOMECOMING 2014.
I spent two days packing. Got my hair done too. I even participated on a sorority (AKA) conference call or two just to be sure all my ducks are in a row. I moved all the big stuff off my work plate, stocked the fridge, arranged baby sitters, washed the dog. I am ready I tell myself. Let's do this! At the 11th hour a most wonderful thing happened. My husband, who attended Norfolk State University, called home to say he would be delighted to accompany me. He even suggested the whole family make the journey. We have not attended either of our homecomings together in over 15 years, but why not I tell myself. Yes to husband, no to kids. Don't steal my joy! HOMECOMING is supposed to be fun, not work.
My truth about homecoming is this. I am somewhere between anxious and excited. Were it not for my blog this regurgitation of transparency would likely never see the light of day, but here it is. I feel like I am going home.
Howard made me who I am today. I was surrounded by the best of the best, the Creme of the Creme. Professors who challenged me and students who inspired me. Even in 1982 I was never alone. Every other state club adopted me as their "homegirl." I cultivated life long friendships that continue to this very day. From Howard I acquired a best friend, a maid of honor, business associates, mentors, rain makers, confidants, my lawyer, and extended family.
What follows is my today. What if in 2014 I walk back on the scene and I am forgotten? Worse still, what if I have forgotten?
My homecoming anxiety checklist:
1- Can I admit, I remember your face but not your name? Is it ok to say help me remember you? What does that say about me? Or do I pretend to know them and pray to God above for a lifeline, something that jars this aging mind? The tighter their hug the bigger my embarrassment.
2- When we are on "the yard" and I am with my sorority, is it ok to stand outside the circle because joining suggests I remember the steps and their songs? My outside voice wants to scream out, "What did you expect, I couldn't step then, I can't step now. I am from Utah for goodness sake!?"
3. And then there is the moment of all moments. The old boyfriend encounter. Well in my case this could take awhile. I was after all, a bit of a hottie back then. At least in my mind and selective memory, wink, wink. The moment after 2-3 glasses of Malbec, he walks up to me and says....... Well it does not matter what he says. Old boyfriend encounters are inevitable. It seems they clear a path to find you. Your 1982 old mind takes over. Do I pretend like I remember everything? Do I talk talk talk talk about my life today? Do I throw off just a slight hint of flirtation for his ego and mine? Yikes! I don't relish these moments. Maybe this is why I don't come back every year.
I am headed home. And like home nothing is ever what it seems. I am ready. Howard University I love you right back!