Friday, October 13 - Interlochen 35th Reunion, Day One

1) All that’s worth recording of my journey is that the car service did arrive just before 3 AM, my flights were uneventful, and I spent about 30 minutes of my layover in O’Hare on the phone with Mother. I called her because it was Daddy’s birthday, our first without him.

2) Crotchie van (I continue to call it the crotchie van) collected me and three women, all attending the reunion. They had not been back to campus in longer than I.

3) The first surprise was that the entrance to Stone has been remodeled to include a glassed-in wheelchair ramp. The second was that the lobby of Stone has been refurnished. Gone all the lumbery sofas, gone the wooden lamp with a drawer (in which there was a lot of graffiti). Now there’s a flock of navy blue sofas, very conservative, very unimaginative, very characterless. But I suppose they're comfortable.

4) Once I got my key to my cabin, I headed over to Apollo Hall to check in - and the very first person I saw there was my wonderful friend Ellen from Alumni Board days! We hadn’t seen each other in at least three years. Merriment ensued.

5) My cabin is in the back of beyond of Penn Colony, which is OK - except that it’s just out of range of the internet. But the idea of staying off campus is unthinkable for me (as I don't want to be bothered with a car), so I suck it up.

6) I don’t know if I slept or just rested, but I necessarily remained in bed for a couple hours to restore myself. I can't get around on three hours of sleep the way I never could when I was younger anyway. :-) I don’t know when they replaced all the beds in these cabins, but I’m really glad they did.

7) I’d been invited to a meeting with the new president over at Mallory-Towsley (the adult education building, which was opened . . . wow, almost ten years ago!) I went over a bit early to use the internet and discovered they'd added a couple large spaces in the back.

8) The meeting was good. About two dozen volunteers, mostly former but some current, and a couple staff. Age ranged from an alumna who graduated in one of the very first Academy classes in the 1960s to young woman who graduated only last year. So many good, constructive thoughts - and a deadline: the centennial of the Camp in 2029. We have twelve years . . .

8a) So, the new president. When I was active as a volunteer over five years ago I'd had to say to a lot of people "[Insert Name of Most Recent Past President Here]'s relationship with Interlochen will end when he leaves. Ours is enduring, and our time will come." And that time is now. The new president recognizes that healing needs to take place, and that we need to move forward as a community, not as an autocracy. I am very encouraged.

9) Over to Stone for dinner, but I thought I would first go down to the lake, and then I got the biggest shock of the day. That rocky staircase, the one I ran down at top speed as a student but more sedately now - that staircase is gone! The entire waterfront has undergone a change that I can only describe as an abortion. (The motivation behind the change was handicapped accessibility, which is of course necessary and laudable - but there are ways and ways of making something happen.) An entire stand of trees has been taken down for what I can only assume is the Distinctly Middle-Class need for an unimpeded water view. The campus is losing its rustic authenticity.

9a) Now I am not one of Those People who believe that nothing must ever ever EVER change at Interlochen. As I've pointed out many times before, things embedded in amber are beautiful, but they're dead.

10) Then I walked into the cafeteria, and became completely disoriented. The old cafeteria lines are gone! All the seating has changed! I’m so confused . . . but the best of this is that that VILE dish room has disappeared and people can put their dishes on a conveyor belt.

11) I dined with David, the one other classmate I’d been able to find, but we were both so concentrated on talking I didn’t really eat enough. And then I rushed back to my cabin to drop off a couple things, and head to Corson for the orchestra concert.

12) Wonderful program of Prokofiev (Romeo and Juliet), Debussy (one movement of La Mer), and Stravinsky (selections from the Firebird). The conductor’s Traditional Conductor Hair (short in back, long and swept back in front so that it can fall forward during conducting and then be pushed back) was topped only by one of the violinists, who clearly borrowed Sergei Eisenstein’s hair and put it through the fluff and dry.

13) There’s still very little as exciting as walking into the Corson as the orchestra is warming up, and seeing all the students coming in late to cheer their friends. I was reminded of a concert from my senior year when Byron Hanson was conducting. R***** P******, arriving late, clonked on her wooden clogs to her seat in the exact center of a long row, causing Byron to turn full around on the podium and glare.

14) After the concert, feeling hangry, hotfooted it over to Fine Arts for the dessert reception. Delighted to see my junior year roommate Ed, and friends from other classes (almost no one from ’82 is coming this year), and felt like I needed more than dessert.

15) So off to the Whippy Dip (now more generally known as the Melody Freeze or the Mo Fro) to wait in line forever for a couple slices of pizza, feeling impossibly old and gawky surrounded by all those students.

16) A walk down the concourse shows that the display cases have almost all changed, and that that padded bed-like alcove near JVS has been replaced with a more traditional bench. I can't imagine why . . .

17) So this reunion is starting a little differently for me: enjoying many conversations hopeful for the future of the school under its new leader, but grappling with unhappy changes to the physical plant and the absence of many people I love.