Preparing For My First Homecoming Weekend As An Alumnus

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At 6:45 P.M. tonight, I fly out of Austin and head to Madison for my first-ever Homecoming weekend as an alumnus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I would be lying to your face right now if I told you that I haven’t been looking forward to this day since that fateful weekend in May when I had to kiss four years of abnormal normalcy goodbye and head on to the lifetime of bigger and better smaller and worse things known as adulthood.

I oftentimes find myself looking back upon my college life and reminiscing about the times that were. Luckily, since I went to college during an era rife with handheld recording equipment, I don’t have to rely on my brain to remember these times — which is probably for the better, seeing as I don’t actually remember most of the best parts. What a world we live in! The future is now.

There was the time I threw a perfect game of beer pong.

The time I started a new phenomenom called “Oscar the Grouching,” where you hop into a trash can outside of a crowded bar and yell at passersby.

And the time I took a shot of a wringed-out bar rag (it tastes like a warm, salty long island, for those of you wondering at home).

I did those cool things in my glory days, in college. Postgrad life is great, but it’s just so much more boring. The coolest thing I’ve done since I graduated was learn how to grill. It’s a skill I intentionally never learned in college, because there is nothing I enjoy more than a brat, burger, or hot dog prepared just the way I like it – overcooked and slightly charred by the out-of-control, fire-code-shattering grease fires that inevitably start on the grill at my fraternity house. Correctly-cooked food just can’t match that perfect, carbon-y imperfection.

Even though I get to have my adult cheat weekends every now and then, this is the one I’ve been looking forward to the most. It’s not until after you graduate that you realize just how amazing college is. While you undergrads are out there on Thursday living it up at the bars surrounded by all your best friends, I’m stuck at home doing lame shit like googling “Am I going to die?” after I mistake gummy vitamins for gummy bears and house an entire bottle.

I’m not entirely sure what to expect from the first of many returns to my college town. I have this feeling that it will be like I’m still a student — like I never left. Many of my friends stayed for a fifth year, and I’ve only been gone from Madison for five months. That’s less time spent away than someone who studies abroad spring semester and then goes home for summer. For all I know, I’ll fly in tonight, head to the same bar, hand my ID to the same bouncer who denied me once when I was 21 because he thought my real ID was fake, take a shot of the drippings from the same wringed-out bar rag, hang out with the same friends, and jump into the same trash can.

That’s not what I’m hoping for, though. I don’t want to feel like I never graduated, because I did. I’m an alumnus. My college memories have already been made, and when I’m back in Madison, I’m not trying to make more college memories – I’m trying to relive the ones I’ve already made. It’s the closest I can come, and the closest I want to come.

In Madison, Wisconsin, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.

I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.


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