Boston University’s graduation ceremonies would have been Sunday. I feel for these students. I cannot fathom going home for spring break senior year of college and then suddenly being told to simply not return. At all. College life over. No goodbyes, no packing-up ritual, no celebrations.
Some BU students were back on campus today and I was there photographing them. Some never left after being given permission to stay on campus for one reason or another. Others came from out of town with their caps and gowns just to take some photos on the university’s most photogenic, iconic spots.
Today, as I watched these students replace their masks between photos, I thought about my own college experience, and again felt grateful to have had the one that I did. Pandemic-free, and much more.
In a weird coincidence, I was sitting down to dinner tonight when my close college friend Suzanne texted me that our beloved music duo, The Indigo Girls, were performing live online right that moment. I confessed to Suzanne that I hadn’t listened to anything new of theirs in about fifteen years.
I clicked over to the site where they were performing and was reminded why; I burst into tears at the sound of their harmonizing voices, the strum of their acoustic guitars.
The Indigo Girls, who’s music I came to know in my sophomore year, are so distinctly a part of my college experience in the late nineties at Ohio University that I cannot listen to them without remembering how it felt to be there; the smell and temperature of the air, the sensation of pulling a solid key out and unlocking the door to your dorm building as your ID wallet hung from the key ring. Walking the halls with their cinderblock walls. Entering your dorm room with it’s bunkbeds and built-ins and feeling at home. Later, the grunginess that was our crappy house with eight people jammed into it. The light passing through the college green. The bagel sandwiches at our favorite Court Street joint. I could go on but I’ll just send you here for more descriptions.
I confessed to Suzanne that I was blubbering at the sound of the Indigo Girls’ singing, “My emotions are very close to the surface these days, but still…” I told her via text. She could relate, she told me, and added that Dory, who we both lived with senior year, was also watching this live performance.
I started a group text between the three of us, and we all sang the praises of these musicians. These songs which featured on our college soundtrack. Suzanne and I both confess to bawling and Dory tells us she is in her kitchen dancing and singing along.
Suddenly I am shot back to Southeast Ohio, it’s a sunny day, and we’re riding in Dory’s car with the windows down, returning from Kroger, our grocery store, and singing to the Indigo Girls at the top of our lungs.
“I can hear you slightly off key!” I tease Dory today.
“Slightly off-key? You’re being kind!” she responds good-naturedly.
It’s a nice memory to pop back to.
Suzanne says that the band will be performing live again next week online and before long, the three of us have a plan to video chat then so we can catch up and watch together. I am excited to see the faces of these women I have not seen in a few years.
This pandemic thing is the worst, but there are silver linings!