I loved my time at Williams. It was a really special time in my life- an intense cerebral-minded place filled with really smart, interesting people (but let’s be real, there was also a lot of partying). Although I feel I’d be even more appreciative of it now than I was in my late teens/early twenties (see previous parenthetical), I know I am incredibly lucky to have such a formative experience there. I also realize that there are many avenues to getting a great education and I am glad that I had such great parents who always encouraged me to do my best and not quit, even when I wanted to (I’m looking at you, organic chemistry!!!).
Why these warm feelings? I just came back from my 15th Reunion! I had missed my 10th when I was on the USNS Mercy so it was important to me to make this one. I missed the Berkshires and really wanted to go back. June is usually lovely and I was excited to go and re-meet people I had gone to school with so long ago. I realize that there are many more reunions to come (hopefully) and that one day, I’ll roll my eyes at my 2017 self thinking that 15 years is a long time but really, a lot of living and life events have happened during that time!
I had planned my trip back based on the college’s website which said reunion was 8-11 June. Well, my class really had things on 9-10 so arriving early on the 8th meant that Morgan Hall was pretty empty. I felt like a first-year wondering who my friends were going to be that night!
Backtracking a little, I landed in Albany and picked up my rental car where I recognized a woman I had been in school with. We spoke briefly and then went off our separate ways. I took a meandering route through Vermont and ended up on Rte. 2. I drove out to Shelburne Falls and went to the Glacier Potholes and Bridge of Flowers. It’s picturesque and a place I would visit the Summer of ’01 when I worked in a Williams lab. The glacier potholes were so much fun to swim in. “Were?” you ask. Yes, unfortunately. The town has cordoned off the potholes as they decided it was too much of a liability. Apparently, it’s a miracle I survived my youth.
I also stopped in at Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters, a frequent stop on roadtrips across Rte 2. I ate lunch at Rollin Dough, a portable wood oven pizza place outside of the coffee shop. I had a delicious 1/2 pizza, tomato and burrata. Deelicious! If you are passing by, I highly recommend this roadside stand!
I headed back to Williamstown and checked in for reunion weekend, which included lodging in Morgan Hall for $80. Excellent! I met up with a few acquaintances and we went out for tapas and drinks at Hops & Vines. It’s weird to type “acquaintances” because I feel they are now friends but at the time, they were people I certainly remembered but had never interacted with at length. We talked about our current lives and certain highlights of Williams. A few of them had been at the Williams at Oxford program, which sounded fantastic. I did not study abroad due to a double major + pre-med work that I wanted to complete in four years. I definitely had to be goal-oriented because it was a choice to take classes I wasn’t necessarily interested in but needed to complete pre-med requirements. As a result, I didn’t take Art History 101 (*single tear*) or study abroad. I’m glad I made the choice I did but it was fun to hear about other Williams experience, especially seen with 15 years perspective.
We also had great political discussions that I really enjoyed. While you might imagine that there’s a certain political leaning among most Williams graduates, I found people’s viewpoints to be very nuanced and well-considered.
On Friday, I headed to MASS MoCA with two friends. The collection is incredible. James Turrell has a temporary exhibit with interesting manipulations of light. Our trio’s favorite exhibit was Spencer Fitch’s “Cosmic Latte.”
Friday afternoon saw the arrival of some of my close friends, whom I had last seen during our November trip. Two women from our November trip couldn’t make it and Gisele is still over in Europe. Our class had a casual dinner that night and it was really delightful to talk to so many people. I really had the best time and it was a late night, ending at the Purple Pub.
A note on the Purple Pub and other buildings in the area. In no way did I feel that Williams was austere when I went there but the current swankiness of the buildings and facilities (minus the dorm beds) is unbelievable. The architecture is world-class and the new Sawyer-Stenson quad is exquisite. I can’t believe that the class size (~525) is still the same- it’s such seemingly overabundance of riches.
Saturday was a Williamstown day. We ran, went out for coffee, marched in the alumni parade where we closed down Rte 2 (not much different than the 10 minutes between classes during the academic year), went to the all-campus lunch, hiked Stone Hill, ate ice cream and got ready for the Saturday night dinner and party. Our party went late and we ended up getting crashed by current students, the class of ’07 and the class of ’82. So clearly, it was a great party. I ended the night again at the Purple Pub, this time with several people from the Class of ’82.
Sunday was the day of departures. Marissa and I hiked up Pine Cobble, which had fantastic views. Then we went back into town and said goodbye to each other and to Hillary and Jason. After my friends left, I went to the snack bar for a bit before leaving the dorm room around 11:30. I went to the Clark Art Institute with its fantastic collection. Then I got a Lickety Split ice cream (so good!) and a Papa Charlie’s sandwich and hit the road. I got home late but it was worth it to maximize my Berkshires weekend. I’d like to get back in between reunions but if I can’t, I am really looking forward to the 20th!
PS: Where was SMS? Home. He didn’t have enough vacation time, plus it wasn’t his reunion so interest wasn’t super-high. As it turned out, a lot of people came sans spouse unless the spouse was a fellow Williams grad. Since it had been so long, I felt like I was meeting people for the first time so introductions could have been hard. Someday, though, I will definitely take SMS to this amazing place!