Note: I was asked to give the toast at my 20 year reunion at Lawrence University this past weekend. People seemed to enjoy it, so I’ve reprinted the text below.
It’s always so magical to get back here and grapple with the simultaneous reality of permanence and change. I am always happy to be reminded, too, that Lawrence is, at it’s very core, just a place. That is in contrast to the many permutations that Lawrence has taken in my dreaming mind since graduating. That Lawrence is some sort of Stranger Things Upside Down that I need to get over. Here are some things that I still have dreams about:
- I parked my car somewhere and now can’t remember where I parked it. It is usually winter. It might be under one of those unidentifiable snowdrifts.
- I forgot to drop a class and have been registered for a mysteriously titled class, usually in Main Hall, the entire term. The final is tomorrow. I have never attended and don’t even really know how to find the classroom because it’s in Main Hall.
- I haven’t checked my mailbox the entire term and can’t actually remember how to open it. This is a variant on the high school “can’t open the locker” dream
- I can’t lock my dorm room and when I come back it’s been
- Taken over by squatters
- My dorm room has a secret annex that I never noticed that includes among other things a small kitchen, deck space, an atrium, and a full appliance package.
So in my dreaming life, apparently Lawrence serves as little more than a conduit for all of my waking anxieties. Because these anxieties are numerous, I rotate these Lawrence stress dreams with other favorites, including the one where all of my teeth fall out one by one like one of those Hillbillies on Hee Haw.
These weird dreams stand in stark contrast to my actual daytime memories of Lawrence They’re so very vivid and numerous. Vivid, intense, saturated. I think for most of us gathered here, some of our most purely distilled emotional moments happened on these 88 acres. My fiercest friendships grew up here. My most mind-blowing realizations. The shell of my small-town existence was chipped and ripped away here. We loved wholeheartedly, idealized unjadedly, grew unrestrainedly. We have never been so terribly hung-over either before or since. It was intense, vivid, saturated. And so, like you all, I come back to take a restoring sip from the fountain, to bring back into focus the moments from the faded photographs, to make out the echoes of laughter and tears and oratory in these walls.
So, with that common, perhaps terribly sentimental thought in mind, let’s all raise our glasses:
May our lives continue to be blessed with intense loves and vivid moments. May our lives be saturated with Light, More Light!\