When I first set out on my cross country drive, culminating this weekend in my 25th Reunion, I had expected that Williams would often be on my mind and I would frequently pen posts about my thought.  But, now with the first events of our reunion fewer than 48 hours away, I find I have hardly posted on this journey, the last time just after staying with Williams friends in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Now, I’m in Boston, having followed a route similar to that I first took when my Dad drove me to college for my freshman year.  Only then time, instead of heading from the New York Thruway to Route 2, I took the MassPike into Boston.  On Thursday, I’ll take Route 2 West to Billsville.

One thought which has crossed my  mind from time to time was more  a hope than a thought, the hope that when my class assembles again, they won’t remember me as I was when first we assembled as freshmen in the Fall of 1981.  But, as I noted in a previous post, “some of the sharpest memories I have are of freshman year“.  I would dare say it’s the same for many of them.

While I came to embrace many of my lifetime passions in the Purple Valley, when I first arrived I was uncertain about the propriety of expressing any of them, more concerned about fitting in than in “finding myself” (to borrow an expression which has become a cliché).  But, then I think that many of us tried to mask our own insecurities in false identities.  And we sometimes became judgmental of those not in our circle (or our entry) to cover our own anxieties.

For most of us, that judgmental attitude melted away as we became more comfortable in our own circles more confident in our talents and more aware of our own interests.  Perhaps, it was the support of a good friend or the encouragement of a professor.  Or the inspiration of a coach (or other mentor).

In closing, let me share with you something I shared with my freshman roommate a full decade after our tense year together.  Upon learning that like me, he came out (as gay) shortly after graduation, I wrote him a letter (it was at the dawn of the age of e-mail).  We didn’t get along, I had written, because we kept bumping into each other’s armor.  Armor we had put on to hide our real identities — and to protect ourselves from being hurt.  In his response, he agreed with that insight.

A lot of us were wearing armor in our first years at Williams.  And not just in my class.  It would be our experiences in subsequent semesters that gave us the capacity to remove that armor.  And for the gift of that capacity, I’m ever grateful to our alma mater.

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