It seems like everything right now is screaming HOMECOMING HOMECOMING HOMECOMING! And that’s probably because homecoming was last weekend and there were lots of festivities.
It was a very special homecoming for me for two reasons.
1. This was my last homecoming as an active Alma student. In April I will be walking across a stage to shake President Abernathy’s hand, and after that, every single homecoming is going to be an alum affair.
2. It was my mother’s 30th reunion from Alma.
My mom, Amy Anderson (’83) went to Alma with the intent of studying French but ended up with a biology major that led her to graduate school in Indiana, where she fortunately met my dad and had me and my brother. While at Alma she was a part of Alpha Theta which later became Gamma Phi Beta, my sorority, and she played on the field hockey team. My parents come to Alma a lot and every time they come, my mom always tells me how much Alma has changed but also how much has stayed exactly the same.
On Saturday, I took them on a tour of Saga 2.0 and I think my mom’s mouth hit the floor. My dad wasn’t that perturbed by it, but he went to Butler University. I sometimes wonder if he’s sad that my brother and I went to Alma and not to Butler (I at least applied) but he sees how happy we are here, and I think that’s enough for him.
While we ate lunch in the new Saga, my mom told me about what Saga was like when she went here in the eighties and how it was actually Saga and not Sodexo. There was only one main line and if you didn’t like what was in it, tough luck.
As a long-term vegetarian, that didn’t sound very appealing to me.
After lunch and a quick tour of the Gamma Phi Beta house where my mom lived for her last two years on campus as an undergrad, we went to the football game and cheered hard for the football players and the Kiltie Marching Band. I did marching band in high school and it’s always been near and dear to my heart. We screamed for our homecoming queen and king and lamented our loss in overtime. Then my parents took me and my brother (Aaron Hollenberg ’13) out to dinner at Pizza Sam’s, an Alma favorite. It was my brother’s first homecoming as an alum and it felt like he had never left.
After a nice dinner I had to get ready for my first and only homecoming choir concert. It wasn’t until halfway through my junior year that I realized that I missed music and I joined chorale, Alma’s second choir. I was particularly excited because we were singing The Circle of Life from The Lion King, and that happens to be my favorite movie of all time. Ask me about it sometime. (But seriously. When we got the music in class I burst into tears in front of the whole choir. I was that excited.)
It was a surreal experience, singing in the homecoming choir concert for the first and last time. I focused hard on not losing my voice as I sang Highland Cathedral over the sweet drone of the Alma bagpipes. I found my parents in the audience and they smiled at me as I sang the Alma Mater and it was very hard for me not to cry as I sang the alto line, “Alma! Alma! Sing of alma mater!” I watched my mom throughout the entire Alma Mater and it was then that I truly realized how deeply the roots of Alma go through my family.
My mother went to Alma from 1979-1984. My brother went to Alma from 2009-2013. I am going to Alma from 2010-2014. It’s not out of character for my mother to say in passing, “Well when your kids look at Alma” in general conversation.
Alma is truly a home. Even though my dad didn’t go to Alma, he makes the drive from Indiana to Michigan numerous times a year to watch us present at Honor’s Day, to hear me sing in the choir, to see me peform in The Vagina Monologues, to go on a whim when my mom asks him to because she misses home.
This was my last homecoming as a student, but it’s not my last homecoming. My mother is proof of that. All of the alumni who came into the choir, rose up, and sang the Alma Mater with us are proof of that.
Alma is with us forever.
Here’s a video of the Alma College Choirs singing The Circle of Life if you missed it.
(Video credit to Brendan Lodge’s (’14) Facebook. He’s also the soloist at the beginning AND he arranged the score. Also ten points if you can find me, which shouldn’t be that hard because I’m really awkward in the front row.)