Oh, we all started off sedately and politely enough. Thank heavens someone brought a yearbook, because we're not all recognizable as our 40 year younger selves. Slowly the facade of politeness and distance and trepidation started to crack, and before I knew it (or before the second glass of wine) we were laughing at things that happened forty years ago and at things that happened yesterday. The ladylike groups from a mere 20 and 30 years out halted their quiet reminiscences as our conga line, waving a rainbow of colorful napkins, snaked through the hall. There was a circle dance, into the center of which even the demurest of us was drawn to display her moves, and there was a charming waiter who danced his way into our hearts (and a sizable tip at the end of the evening).
Let me say this with complete honesty: not one of us was drunk or anywhere near it. We have simply arrived at that glorious, liberating age of "Take it or leave it, Toots, this is me!" which is turning out to be a lot more fun than any of us had expected it to be. Some of my companions were names to me, vaguely remembered. Some I swear I have never heard of or seen in my life. None of that mattered by the end of the evening. We rejoiced in the renewed spirit of our college. Sister Janet Eisner, now President of the school, and the Dean of Students when we entered all those years ago, has simply changed her hair from black to silver, but remained unchanged and as dynamic as ever. She took a moribund girls' college and transformed it into one of the up and coming science centers of Boston, working closely with local hospitals and research laboratories. She even let boys in, and the place still stands.
To put it another way, everything and nothing has changed. Like us, Emmanuel doesn't look the way it looked forty years ago. But in among the glass and steel state-of-the-art buildings one can still see the red brick of the Administration Building (where I was married in the chapel) and the dormitories which face onto Brookline Avenue. There are enough old bones there to identify the place, but hiding in the center is a hubbub of activity and newness. Not unlike the members of the
Class of 1974.