Sunday, July 23, 2006

... But Then We Went To A REAL School

Okay, once again Blogger is being obstinate and not allowing me to post images. But I've grown tired of waiting to publish this post, so I'll add a photo later. Grr....

That stroll around Harvard on Thursday evening was nice and all, but it paled in comparison to what I did today: visit Brown University. Or as I call it, the True Happiest Place on Earth (with all due respect to Disneyland). Those who know me are aware that I am a little... let's just say loyal... to my alma mater. Okay, the intensity of my Brown loyalty does border on insane, but I roll with it. It all started back in April 1988 when I had acceptance letters to seven colleges, including the aforementioned Harvard, thank you very much, in my little teenage hands. And there was never a doubt I would go anywhere other than Brown. My mother wasn't too fond of my collegiate decision, but if the most upsetting thing I did in my teen years was choose Brown over Harvard, I'd say she had it pretty easy.

I was not disappointed. Those were four fabulous years. So for me, revisiting the campus is much like a tiny pilgrimage.

After graduation, I lived in Rhode Island for four and a half more years, and I hated it. Hated it. Did I mention I hated it? Also, I didn't like it much. But I have found in the decade since I moved back to the West Coast that Rhode Island is a truly lovely place to visit. It doesn't hurt that my dear friend and former roommate Cindy (whom I have called Pea since the day in 1995 when my friend Randy described us as "two peas in a pod") lives in a fabulous home in a delightfully bucolic Cumberland neighborhood. I didn't even know Cumberland, Rhode Island, had such neighborhoods. It looks just as I always imagined New England would look... until I lived here myself. But this has been a wonderful stay; I almost don't want to leave. Almost.

Once Pea collected me from the train station yesterday, we immediately hit the Brown Bookstore so I could load up on propaganda clothing. That's right, if it had "Brown University" printed on it, I bought it. Our bags full of insignia-laden crap, Pea and I then went to find a bar so we could do a little afternoon cocktailing. Apparently, Providence is not like San Francisco, in that finding adult beverages before 5:00 p.m. is a little more of a challenge. But we managed. Our friend Dolby eventually joined us, and then last night, Dolby, Pea, Pea's fiancee Matt and I all went to dinner at a restaurant called Red Stripe which occupies the space in Wayland Square formerly filled by the East Side Newport Creamery. Red Stripe has that space because Newport Creamery has gone bankrupt. This may mean nothing to you, but to anyone who ever spent a significant amount of time in Rhode Island, it is a travesty. Apparently, there are still four Newport Creamery locations in operation, but only four in the entire state? Travesty, I say. I also learned that Big Alice's ice cream shop closed, but the Cable Car Cinema is still there, as are Fellini's and the Coffee Exchange. Plus, in this age of corporate sponsorship, the Providence Civic Center has been renamed the Dunkin Donuts Center, which is, in my opinion, far more laughable than that Generic Telephone Park where the Giants play baseball.

Anyway, over our Red Stripe delectables, the four of us chatted about all things Rhode Island. The talk of politics was both highly entertaining and an excellent reminder as to why I no longer live here. But the evening certainly was fun.

Then this morning, I went with Pea to the gym before we grabbed a mimosa lunch and took our alumni nostalgia tour of Brown. It was sweet. We played in the Whispering Arch. We sat on the Henry Moore statue on the Main Green. We felt old. And luckily most of the buildings stand as they have for the past 242 years because some things in life just need to remain consistent. I did have one of those "If I knew then what I know now..." moments, however. If I could go back to my college days with the self confidence, life knowledge and, honestly, figure I have now, I would do a lot of things differently. I'd be more outgoing and try to make a lot more friends. Not that the friends I had weren't wonderful, but when else in your life do you live in an insular community of your most brilliant, driven and creative peers? I'd want to know as many of them as physically possible. I'd go see more theatre on campus than I did. I take more risks and try many more activities than I did. And frankly, I'd have a lot more sex than I did. Trust me, a whole lot more.

As I said to Pea as we sipped our cabinets (that's Rhode Island for "milkshakes") on our way back to her and Matt's house, it's possible this has been my favorite day of my vacation. So far, at least. More adventures are on the horizon. Stay tuned...


Fabulous Patti said...

Mom didn't like it when I chose Berkeley over Stanford either but as you know, it worked out for me similarly. Shows you what moms know.

I have a friend at work named Christina who didn't particularly care for her time at Brown. I suspect that maybe it's because she didn't know you. She's perfectly nice otherwise.

I thought you did meet everyone at Brown while you were there? It certainly seems like it when you're running into people who know you on the streets of San Francisco.

Pea said...

What Sassy fails to mention is the story of hunting for an afternoon beverage on Saturday. When we were two peas who actually lived in the same pod, we had our own Favorite Bar East, which is now sadly defunct due to reasons that can only be explained by Rhode Island politics. Since we couldn't drink at Favorite Bar East, we decided to drink at whatever was now occupying the space it once did. Only problem is...we couldn't remember where the heck the bar used to be! We finally resolved the problem by driving to the house of the last person we usually picked up on our nights out. From there, we could "feel" our way there. Unfortunately, a real restaurant now occupies Favorite Bar East's spot, and they weren't letting us riff raff in. I gave the, Maitre'd, my thoughts on that, and Sassy dragged me away from the Favorite Bar Imposter.