On the Wildcat, the reunion and the Wardrobe

Will Reichel is a Speech senior. He can be reached at [email protected].

Last Spring, something strange happened. I was spending time with some good friends, and not much else mattered. We talked and laughed and played guitar at 3 a.m. until University Police made us stop.

It was a good time, the time when we’re glad to have an extra month here to enjoy the “About Time” spring and the changes it brings.

But June came and my friends disappeared. The vanishing act happens every year, but this time it was marked by a revelation:

It goes a little something like this (for the record, this is the part of our program where Will drops a gratuitous metaphor and you laugh or roll your eyes or throw up): Remember the Log Flume ride? Every respectable amusement park had one. You start off just lazing around bends and through mechanical rapids.

And then comes The Sound: Ka-thunk, Ka-thunk, Ka-thunk.

The chains start pulling you higher. Your friends on the log ahead, they reach the top, drop over the horizon and disappear. And when you see them off, you know it’s about that time for you, too.

So what a surprise it was this weekend, while I was waiting my turn at the top of the drop, to I see those friends who just went over. They floated back up again.

The Pied Wildcat brought his children home. For a weekend, anyway.

They all seemed happy and relieved to be here with us. They watched a bad parade and bad football and drank bad beer. And times were good.

Home again, home again, jiggety jig.

But it must have been strange for them. Four years ago they stepped through a Wardrobe, and into a strange, icy place that somehow became home.

In June they found their way back through the coats and out into the world. And this weekend they had another peek inside; they traveled back again to Where the Wildcats Are (and to where I mix my metaphors and have fun doing it).

A lot changes when you leave a place for a while and then come back for a visit. Part of you can always go home. And part of you can never go home again.

For those of us who haven’t left yet, there was strangeness, too. All of a sudden you run into an old friend or an old lover or the girl from Tech Express you had a crush on sophomore year.

For a second, it was hard to remember they’d ever left. But then they left again, to do great things and have adventures and make us proud.

Back at the NU ranch we have the luxury of leftover time, some extra sand in the hourglass. Sometimes it’s easy to forget we’ll ever leave this place. Or we want to slam the Wardrobe door and start being Grown Up. There must be a happy medium, somewhere. Right?

Lest you think this is a senior epidemic, just remember that Time is the great equalizer. I remember being five, lying in the backyard of my old house underneath the Magnolia tree.

I remember not being able to imagine what it would be like to be 11 (oh my). I want to go back to that tree, to that place, but I can’t. Time is moving faster now, for all of us. And it’s exciting and scary and even sad.

So this year, Homecoming was more than just a football game.

And NU was more than just a Wardrobe.