By Luke Blount
As I spent Homecoming weekend in Waco this year–my first time as an alumnus–one thought kept rolling through my mind: The more things change, the more they stay the same. At least that’s how the saying goes.
I graduated from Baylor just a few short months ago and moved to the Dallas area not long after. But as I spent this past weekend on campus, I realized a few months is enough for a mountain of change.
Friday night I went to the bonfire like I had done for the previous four years, but this time there were fewer faces that I recognized–and younger faces looking back at me. At one point my friend Allan turned to me and said, “Some of these kids look so young.” That sounds absurd coming from a twenty-two-year-old, but he was right. I can’t imagine how much younger they will be in five more years or at least how old I’ll feel.
We watched the lighting of the bonfire, which was way too hot on a seventy-something-degree night, and circled the grounds looking for friends.
Something funny happens in situations like Homecoming or reunions. Sometimes you see people you recognize but don’t really know. In that case, a head bob, smile, or short greeting is sufficient. Other times, you see people (or at least I do) who you do recognize but have no interest in speaking with. In that case, avoiding eye contact is a must. Perhaps that reveals me as being anti-social, but quickly looking away can often save me a great deal of awkwardness.
Nonetheless, for all the posturing, there were some people I was genuinely excited to see again. Catching up with fellow students, professors, and co-workers from my years at Baylor was a true joy, and in every conversation I discovered how much my life and theirs have changed in every direction. Many people have moved on and some are still there, but as life goes on, the only commonality that I will have with many college friends will center around the four years we spent at Baylor.
Saturday, I chose not to go to the parade. Actually, I have never been. I wasn’t involved in a fraternity or other organization that makes a float or participates in the parade. Thus, I always felt my early Saturday mornings after long Friday nights were best spent in bed.
However, as usual, I did show up a couple hours early to the football game, except this time by choice. During all four college years, I spent the games in the press box as an intern with Athletic Media Relations, and it felt awkward (but also relieving) for me to have no responsibilities during the game. I was able to visit with my former co-workers, and that was fun.
In Touchdown Alley, the 2008 table at the Baylor Alumni Association picnic was sparsely populated, but you can’t really blame us for being amateur alumni. Many of us are still pretending to be students.
Prior to this year, I had not sat in the stands at Floyd Casey Stadium since high school, and it was a terrific experience in the hot sun as I re-learned how to cheer for the Bears. I, like most people, didn’t choose to enroll at Baylor because of the football team. (In 2004, I would have been insane to do so.) But Coach Art Briles and quarterback Robert Griffin put on a good show for the alumni against a ranked opponent.
I had an extra ticket to the game that one of my friends decided not to take at the last second, so I had extra incentive for cheering on the Bears, just so I could hold it over his head in the event of victory. Baylor couldn’t quite get over the hump, but being competitive was a good sign for the future.
The rest of my weekend was spent enjoying the company of many of my closest friends. In the few moments where we weren’t joking or reminiscing, we discussed how our lives were changing and what our plans were. But although our paths were not headed in the same direction, we still had Baylor. We still went to the same places, acted the same way, and told the same old jokes. And at least for one weekend every year, we always will.