Yesterday I drove to Baltimore to spend the day at Goucher College, my alma mater. The official reason for my visit was a luncheon at the president’s house, during which I was seated next to the woman responsible for the Caplan scholarship fund, my year at Oxford University and the transatlantic wanderlust that’s plagued me ever since.
It was one of those rather fancy lunches where the food looks lovely but no one seems to eat more than a few morsels. As such, I felt compelled to leave the majority of my shrimp salad on my plate (even though I would have much rather finished it), to eat only half of my roll and—worst of all—to take only one piece of biscotti from the dessert tray when the servers brought the coffee round. This was a real travesty in my opinion because there were several varieties of biscotti, including one drizzled in chocolate which I never did manage to try because I used up my allotment on a little bauble dusted in powdered sugar instead.
Nonetheless, it was lovely to return to campus. I wasn’t particularly popular during my college years, probably because I spent way too much time studying and never managed to snag an on-campus boyfriend, and I never really felt like I “fit in” within the bunheads of the dance department. But it’s different now, four years out. Especially when I roll onto campus in my New York and Company “power outfit” (black and beige dress, black stilettos and a string of actual pearls that belonged to my grandmother).
“You’re guest lecturing in a class you actually took!” I remind myself as I enter the dance department.
“You’re going to lunch at the president’s house!” I remember as I adjust my makeup.
And finally, as I head into the Athenaeum to grab a cup of coffee between the lecture and the luncheon, “You’re 25, Kat. Stop checking out the college boys! They’re undergraduates. You didn’t even like undergraduates when you were an undergraduate.”
So anyway, we’re sitting around the dining room table at the President’s house (me, the college President, our “benefactress” and three other recipients of Caplan scholarship), and we get to the point in the conversation where we have to tell Ms. C. what we did at Oxford, what we’re doing now and share any words of wisdom we have to offer the youngest amongst us, an American Studies major who’s just received the scholarship and won’t be headed to the city of dreaming spires until next year.
“Do everything,” I tell him when it’s my turn to speak. “Seriously. Everything.”
Then I talk about my work as a teaching artist, which gets several grave nods of approval, my column, which gets several laughs, and my intention to return to the UK for my PhD, which seems to make up for the fact that I’m currently involved in daily bouts of self deprecation on the subject online dating.
As the luncheon wraps up, I thank my lucky stars that I quit working at The Shop almost a year ago because that would have been truly embarrassing.