For one weekend in the middle of the golden yellow and ruby red Williamsburg fall that always makes you want to do all things apple-flavored, we get to pretend that the College of William and Mary alumni never graduated. Alumni of all ages return to campus in herds, occupying the Hospitality House and every other hotel within a 10-minute driving radius, crowding our already-limited restaurant options, and filling up our tiny triangular campus. Despite the overcrowding, we love it — for one weekend, we are all back together. There are no barriers of location, age or occupation. If you attended school at our beautiful College at any point of time, you are forever a member in the Tribe.
The idea of Homecoming is a Peter Pan kind of magic. Wait, you mean I never graduated? I really don’t have to grow up? The College can stay my Neverland forever? For alumni, one weekend on campus is like living the infamous Asher Roth music video for 48 straight hours. Parties all day and all night: same brick buildings, same brick walkways, same colonially-dressed characters wandering through Wawa. Texts that read “meet me at Sadler in 10” suddenly make sense. The choice of where to meet up for the night narrows down to five locations, and the world just seems simpler, smaller and happier when you are in bright, sunshiny Williamsburg.
The weekend rolls by faster than the Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens. Cars pour in Friday afternoon just in time for the parade hour. Floats decked in green and gold cover the streets, as students and alumni cheering for the Tribe, basking in the joy of a Williamsburg fall afternoon. Friday night, full of heartfelt reunions, quickly melts into Saturday’s tailgate. Even though we all know our football team might not perform to the level of, well, winning, we hope for the best and pretend that we are a school that cares about football for a day. After the game, alumni and students return to their respective corners — or — delis, to lick their wounds in company because misery always loves company, but how can there really be misery when you are surrounded by people who share your infectious love for this small corner of the world?
Because that’s what love for the College is — a love that follows you after you graduate, to your next career, to a cocktail party in D.C., to a European city, to a cramped New York City apartment, to your wedding, to your future family’s house, straight back to the epicenter, to dear, sweet Williamsburg. When Sunday morning comes and alumnus and students alike must return to their lives, of course it’s bittersweet. Who wants to go back to work or class on Monday? The promise of a forever College future is renewed by the dedication of alumni from around the world watching a poorly played football game and walking the same brick paths once more. Past or present, it’s home.
Ellie Kaufman loves the ’Burg and is anxiously awaiting her own homecoming.