As I was leaving contracts class at grad school last week, I discovered I had a voicemail. Part of me thought, who leaves voicemails anymore? But the other part of me saw that the voicemail was from the Record, and I should have smelled trouble then. After years working on the Record, one learns that a voicemail from an editor means one thing: He or she needs a writer. In particular, the Record needed an alumnus who is incapable of letting go. No one is surprised that I was at the top of that list.
The Record asked me to write about the annual Homecoming young alumni Goodrich dance party, which I am sure seemed, and seems to many, quite laughable. To understand exactly what went down at Goodrich (our favorite chapel-turned-grinding space), you need to be reminded of what Goodrich used to be. Before Greylock became the sweaty, steamy temple of regret that it now is, Goodrich (hereafter “Hoodrich”) was the place that students at the College found painful to remember and painful to forget. Hoodrich was an institution. The disco ball lit up the stained glass windows to remind you that the dance floor make-out you were about to embark on was unholy. The stage begged you to stumble off it and hope that your friends caught you. The balcony beheld unspeakable acts that elicited more than a few whispers at Sunday brunch. It was a given that I needed to recruit backup: namely, Katie Rondeau ’14.
Understandably, my friends and I were wary of our return to the little chapel on the hill. Yet last Saturday, we dutifully tugged on our black bodycon skirts, traded in our Bean boots for heels and shook off the shame that is publicly day drinking as a post-grad. There’s something inherently comical to current Williams students about alums sauntering into their old watering hole. The truth is, we’ve all mostly moved on from Hoodie. We live in cities where we don’t bounce back and forth between the Herring and the Pub hoping that this time they’ll be different, and we don’t long for the days when random boys would decide to introduce themselves via grinding on us.
So how exactly did I find myself back at Goodrich on Saturday evening? Free beer. This is the one motivation that will always remain, my children. Last week, I paid $7.50 for a Coors Light in New York City, so let me tell you, when you hand me a wristband and say, ”Have at it,” I’m going to have at it. (Disclaimer: I only had one free beer, the rest of the article will explain why.)
Hoodrich got off to a good start, mostly – no, entirely – because of Keelia Riegg ’14. Armed with a guest list and standing sentinel where your favorite Campus Safety and Security officers normally stand hating the night shift, Riegg checked us in with a smile and a hug. After the reassurance, a little piece of me thought, “Okay, Nikki, you can do this.” The little piece of me was misguided.
My friends and I promenaded onto the dance floor, and everything came rushing back to us. The disco ball. The stage. The bench where our Junior Advisors used to sit counting down the minutes ’til mozz sticks at Snack Bar. Our universal thought was, “We need that free drink.” Having secured my only beer for the night, we found a corner to observe and take our journalistic endeavor seriously. We hoped to see the things you normally see at a Hoodrich party: a couple taking it too far, a middle school dance circle, perhaps someone begging the DJ to play Miley Cyrus. While I hope those things occurred after I lost my stomach for Hoodie, what we really observed is the fundamental truth: Homecoming is a strange time for alums. We want everything to be the same, but we want ourselves to be different, more mature. We hate that there’s a new library because it means no one is trolling Schow with us anymore, but the thought of entering Schow terrifies us. We hope that our friends will be overjoyed to see us, but they’ll simultaneously be impressed that we are a shiny new version of ourselves.
The fact about Homecoming, though, is that just like as a student, it’s the moments when you aren’t trying that are the best. It’s the pregames with your friends where you sing Taylor Swift into a ladle and have one too many margaritas that you’ll want to relive. The late night snuggle session after you ordered too much Colonial’s and packed four people into your former frosh’s bed will remind you why you loved Williams. When it comes time for you to say goodbye to Williams, I can almost guarantee it won’t be the Herring or Greylock that will make you nostalgic. It’ll be the opportunities you gave yourself to be loved for who you are that will convince you that you can handle one more Hoodrich evening.