We remain amidst a pandemic, yet this weekend I was able to get a taste of “normal” and just be a college student for a few days. Homecoming is the annual pilgrimage back to a college family for alumni and for current students a big family gathering.
I had never really celebrated homecoming before this year. My first year was marked by shyness and a general sense of being overwhelmed. My sophomore year, I stayed in. My junior year… was only partially on campus.
After a year and a half of being beaten down by COVID, homecoming became more than just a celebration or a party weekend, I felt connected to those around me. The excitement was infectious as I walked through the tailgate taking pictures for The Slate.
The laughter of old acquaintances, the shining smiles as groups posed for pictures and the smell of grilled food was all around me. The Shippensburg University Marching Band took to the field suddenly and put on a performance hyping up the tailgaters.
Two adorable dogs — an Australian Shepherd with blue eyes and a similar breed with a brown coat — trotted up to me and others, rubbing close against us hoping for a belly scratch. One of the dogs even managed to grab a fallen burger from the grass with a guilty look in his eye.
We were just people, not people in crisis or people under insurmountable stress.
This atmosphere extended well into the day. During the football game, I trotted up and down the field for close-up shots. The SU football team was lively and the fans were even more excited.
It occurred to me that I don’t think I’ve seen as many happy people in one place on campus in quite some time.
While we complain about the “same old, same old,” humans crave the familiar. Our traditions or ceremonies provide us with comfort and a sense of togetherness. Homecoming isn’t a cure all for the last year-and-a-half the world went through, but I think this year’s was special for sure.