Saturday, October 06, 2007

Generations

Today was homecoming day, but being me, I was more up for a bike ride than for watching a parade and a football game. So off I went, skirting by the gathering parade folks to get to the trail where it winds through town.

There's this older man I often see when I ride on the trail. He's notable because he always waves and smiles and says hello. He's one of those folks who make the trail feel friendly, and I like waving and smiling at him, too. I look forward to seeing him on the trail, along with other now familiar faces.

Today, I recognized him from behind as I biked up. I called out a "good morning" to warn him ahead, and then pulled up alongside, slowing a bit to match speeds. We commented on the lovely weather. He asked if I'd been riding much the past week, and I hadn't, and said so. But he had, because, as he said, he's retired and so it's what he likes to do. And we got chatting as we rode about the town, where we were from, our work, the joys of biking, hometowns, just the sort of relaxed chatting that works on bikes.

I have to say, it was delightful. After a few miles, we reached his turn back place, and parted ways after sharing our names and shaking hands.

I rode back into town, passing unsteady young folks on the main street of the student area (next to the bike path) on my way to meet some friends for lunch at a local place with some outdoor seating. At the next table, were some students, and as we ate, other folks, including students, passed by.

Homecoming seems marked this year by brightly colored t-shirts with slogans. For example, on a bright yellow shirt front: LiverStrong. And on the back: Join the Fight Against Sobriety. Others weren't as memorable, pictures of kegs with something about tapping into something or other as the caption, that sort of thing.

A couple of young women walked by wearing "I Swallow" on their fronts, but I didn't make out what the backs said.

It would be funny, but it wasn't, quite.

I feel like an old fuddy duddy. I have far more in common with the retired guy on the bike path--a veteran of WWII, a parent and grandparent, alumni of Flagship U, and a fan of their football team--than I do with the students I teach.

My friends at lunch and I laughed at ourselves as we talked about being grateful not to be college students; we all loved college, I think, or we wouldn't be profs, but none of us misses the pressures of certain social occasions. And we all seem to be enjoying our work and lives despite struggles and difficulties.

I rode 35 miles today (some later with a friend and her out of town visitors), and they felt good. I hope that if I make it to the age of my biking companion today I can bike and smile the way he does. I hope I'm still appreciating the fresh air and the beauty of the trees and fields in fall.

And I hope all our students make it through today safely, so that maybe they'll get to the point where a day of biking and chatting with friends will seem about the height of perfection.

6 comments:

  1. I just realised that despite hearing of "homecoming" on various American TV shows all my life, I have no idea what it actually is, what it involves or what it celebrates. I'll add that to my list of things to read about on Wikipedia in a few days when I'm done with this thesis :)

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  2. The back of the "I swallow" shirt must have said "my pride." These things make me feel old, too.

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  3. I always want to ask the wearers of some of those t-shirts what exactly the message is that they're trying to send to other people. Especially the ones with the slogans that make people sound like jerks. I saw a t-shirt recently that said "I have multiple personalities and none of them like you".

    It makes me feel like an old fuddy duddy before my time.

    Your old dude sounds nice, though. :)

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  4. Stuff like this makes ME feel old (or, more accurately, vaguely depressed), and I'm probably much closer in age to the t-shirt wearers than to anyone else in the story. Same would go for my friends. Mindset/general maturity plays a large part in this, in addition to age.

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  5. Styleygeek, Think football, beer, and litter, and you've got my impression of homecoming activities. Oh, and the weird, retrograde "homecoming court" thing.

    K8, I only wish they were that self-aware.

    MWAK, The older guy was pretty much a highlight of the day. :)

    Dorabella, I think you're right; there's a fair percentage of our students who just aren't involved; they're off studying, volunteering to tutor kids and stuffs. There are a lot of fine folks here.

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  6. Shane in Utah11:06 AM

    You should try teaching here in Utah. Most of my students consider beer to be the devil's juice, and half of them probably wouldn't even recognize "I swallow" as a sexual innuendo. Sometimes it's nice teaching a room full of people who aren't hung over. Sometimes, though, I just want to live in a normal college town with, you know, bars and stuff...

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