Three is a Magic Number

Posted: May 22nd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Friends and Strangers | No Comments »

Okay, so I was a bit off when I projected that, in my recent spate of connecting with people I’ve long fallen out of touch with, it would be Miss Vermette, my crotchety second grade teacher, who’d be the next person I’d stumble across. In fact, the person is Randy Williams, a hilarious fabulous fellow from my junior year abroad program. And Randy’s nothing like Miss Vermette!

So at Kenyon I was an English major. Which is kind of what one does at Kenyon. Go to “the hill” and read the books, and write the papers. And as such, the canonical junior year abroad program was to some British university an hour’s train ride from London, the name of which I can’t even begin to remember.

Getting into this program was something only a select few of us lit junkies had the privilege of doing. I remember when I got in (see how I casually mention how totally smart and cool I was then?) random people I didn’t even know would come up to me on Middle Path (don’t even ask) and congratulate me.

So wasn’t everyone shocked and dismayed when I decided to blow off the hallowed halls of lit-dom to craft a junior year program that included–mon Dieu!–France. This, as an English major, was a wild act of rebellion. But heck, I decided to do the other half of the year in London, just to make my homies happy. Oh, and to do the necessary coursework to fulfill my major’s requirements and, er, graduate.

What’s funny is, no one ever said no to that other program, so by being accepted into it I made it onto all these mailing lists and never was removed from them. Last year I even got an invitation for a reunion of all the Blah-Dee-Blah U attendees. (I didn’t go to that either.)

Okay, so my France program took place in Nantes for the summer, then there was a super weird and random artist’s stage in Rodez (rural southern Nowheresville), and then the fall semester in none other than Gay Paree. The program was a joint one between Kenyon and Earlham College which is somewhere in Indiana. (I’m scraping off rust flack from my brain to remember all this, mind you.)

Earlham hosted an orientation weekend for the 20? students going, since a prof from there was heading up the trip that year. So the Kenyon students drove over to this guy’s house where we all camped out for a night (or two?) and essentially set ground rules, did trust falls, and were awoken from our sleeping bags at an ungodly hour by the prof blasting classical music and announcing in his horrendous French accent, “Bon matin! Nous commencons la jour!” If you’ve never heard the French language, read that sentence in English while jutting your jaw forward and over-enunciating each syllable and you’ll have nailed his accent.

The culture clash between the Kenyon and Earlham kids was grave. The Kenyonites were hopelessly white entitled kids who saw college as four years of boarding school after boarding school. We were apolitical, somewhat lazy, and as painful as it is to admit, likely preppie. The Earlham kids on the other hand were groovy, diverse, socially aware individuals. You know–crunchy.

We were all probably a bit horrified by each other, and they probably had better reason to fear us than the other way around. To wit: Since so many of us were staying with this professor he asked that no one showered–a request my friend Melissa’s sense of hygiene just could not oblige. So while the Earlham posse was following the “if it’s yellow let it mellow” adage with their bathroom usage, Melissa sashayed past a line of people waiting to pee, toweling dry her hair after a nice long hot shower. Utterly obnoxious, but I’ll bet we found it hilarious at the time.

As you’d imagine, the wacky fun of a foreign adventure in which we were forbidden to speak English and were packed together on buses in enriching field trip after enriching field trip  eventually brought us all together. Or at least many of us. Shucks, us kids learned from each other! I don’t know that the Earlham women went so far as to start shaving their armpits by semester’s end, but they were certainly making better stock investments. (Kidding! Wow, wait. I’m still obnoxious!)

But all this blather and chatter and rememberage really is to say that Person Number Three who has woven his way into the game of Kristen Bruno, This is Your Life!, is Randy. Randy who served, by sheer virtue of how fucking funny and sweet and delightful and sassy he is, as a nearly immediate bridge between the two groups. Maybe he wasn’t even an Earlham student, and was a paid actor tasked with bringing us together. At any rate, I remember driving back to Ohio from that orientation excited to have many a milk-out-the-nose laughing session with him in France.

Which it turns out we did. Except substitute wine for milk.

And now, Randy who I never dreamed would crop up in my life again other than in photo albums, posts a little note to THIS VERY BLOG the other day. A little, “Is that you?” kinda note. And yes, by gum, it IS me. So the commenting here thing first off means there are now seven of you reading this. And that his memory is far better than mine since he was able to successfully cyber-stalk me by not only remembering my name, but also that I’m an e-n Kristen. Whereas nearly twenty years after having graduated I’m proud that I remember where I went to college.

To make it all the more fun, Randy lives in the Bay Area. Just blocks away from my sister, Ellen.

See? That’s just the kind of guy he is! You reconnect with him and think, wouldn’t it be great to not only exchange email but to actually see him again, and there he goes making it easy to do so. So a lunch or coffee or night of heavy drinking awaits us soon. Joy!

Funny that in a recent one of my life-analysis phone calls with Mark’s Aunt Terry I mentioned that I was ‘taking resumes’ for new friends. Not that I don’t adore the existing set mind you. (Last thing I want to do is offend my six long-time readers.) It was just that with my new at-home status it seemed I was more available to support a larger friendship infrastructure. (Clearly I still need to learn to talk like I’m not at work.)

And what’s cool is that instead of making new friends–which I have done a bit of recently, sure–I’ve managed to recycle some old ones. How cool is that?

My friends from Earlham would be so proud.

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