Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Coming home on the city's western border

"On the city's west'rn border,
reared against the sky,
Proudly stands our Alma Mater,
as the years roll by--
Forward! ever be thy watchword
Conquer! and Prevail!
Hail to thee, our Alma Mater,
Vanderbilt, all hail!
"

It was homecoming in Nashville, and Katharyn and I were so excited about going back to our dear ol' alma mater, that we woke up at 8 a.m. to get to West End in time for lunch. And we made it!

THE PUB

We got to Vandy, parked at the BCM, and walked to Sarratt Student Center to have lunch at the Overcup Oak, more affectionately known to students (an alums) as just "the Pub."

Kat had food from Grins, Vanderbilt's koser, vegetarian cafe serving Jewish-style foods from around the world. It sounds sort of weird (at least, it did to a former hillbilly like myself), but you've never eaten 'til you've had a PB&G (a tortilla wrap with peanut butter, banana slices, and granola). Plus, the hospitality of Vanderbilt's Jewish community is always a welcome addition to the visit (you know, some of my favorite classes at Vanderbilt were in the Schulman Center for Jewish Life, where Rabbi David Davis taught the course, "Jesus the Jew").

After lunch at the Pub, where we ran into Dustin Dowell and Kevin Hritz, it was time to go browse the bookstore.

CONSUMING COMMODORES

We went through Rand to get to the bookstore and noticed that Gee and his Student Life gestapo (now the Office of the Dean of Students -- new name, same fun) had posted the Vanderbilt Community Creed inside the Rand Dining Center, a la World War II propaganda (in addition to the propaganda, I did like the fact that they'd painted Rand with a nice, muted Commodore gold).

Once we finally made it into the Bookstore, we were super-excited. It seems the bookstore has made some good business decisions, adding Vanderbilt gear by Vineyard Vines, Columbia, and Vera Bradley to their traditional Nike, Champion, and Jansport line-up. Kat and I both found stuff that we wanted, but it was Kat who convinced me to stand in line (for 20 minutes) to buy one of the new, swank Columbia Vandy fleeces. I was a fan.

We didn't just buy stuff, though. We also got to see long-lost brother and friend Wes Whitaker, who was back in the U.S., and in town to celebrate his one-year anniversary with Julie Wilson. It was really good to see Wes, and we had a great visit.

MOMS-AWAY-FROM-HOME

Another one of the missions that Kat and I purposed to accomplish was visiting the two of the ladies that got us through Vanderbilt. After the bookstore, we headed over to Garland Hall for the Women's and Gender Studies Alumni Reception. After we visited with Kat's mentor, Gayle, it was time to head over to McGugin Center to see my mom-away-from-home, Diane Scott.

Diane is the executive assistant to the director of athletics (and, after the dissolving of the Athletics Department, to the person who took over the director's duties) for Vanderbilt's varsity sports. For three years, I worked for Diane as her student assistant. It was one of my favorite responsibilities during my time at Vanderbilt. I spent at least 10 hours of my week at the hub of Vandy athletics, helping to turn me into card-carrying Commodore and turning me away from affiliations with that Big Arnge to the east.

Diane was a great boss, but she was also sort of a mom-figure for me while I worked for her. She helped me get through my break-up with Kat junior year, and she helped keep my hopes up when I was going through the law school application process. If I ever make it, Diane will definitely get credit.

BYXIN' IT UP

After we visited McGugin (and I gave Kat the dime-tour of the Athletics facilities, including the Corridor of Captains, the history of exhibit of Vanderbilt football), it was time to get ready for the secondary reason for my trip to Nashville: running the Beta Upsilon Chi Alumni Association's Nashville alumni dinner.

We hosted the alums and their guests at Logan's, just off of Elliston Place and a block from campus. We had a decent turnout and a lot of fun. In addition to a brief spiel from nationals, we also had a report on how things are going at Vanderbilt's Nu Chapter of Brothers Under Christ.

It was a great evening and really good to catch up with everyone. After dinner, Kat and I were so tired, after our long day, that we went straight "home" (to Mark Halling's apartment near Village at Vanderbilt to sleep.

HOMECOMING

The next morning, Kat and I rolled out and headed to campus to watch the Vanderbilt Homecoming Parade. It was a lot of fun. We watched it from the Schulman Center on the corner of Vanderbilt Place and Twenty-fifth Avenue. We even had some silly Gamecocks show up to watch.

After the parade, it was time to head over to Vandyville for the tailgating with the BYX boys. First, though, Mark and his girlfriend Cristy had to stop and get in line for a limited-edition Jay Cutler bobblehead. After that, we headed through Vandyville and eventually met up with the boys at the BYX tailgate. They had brought out the bar that Alpha Class had made for the 2003 Valentine Party from waaaay back in junior year (and note that the accompanying picture is also from waaaay back in junior year, too).

In addition to tailgating and meeting up with the old BYX crew, my former fellow Cumberlander Mark Arinci was in Nashville for the Commodore Quake concert, rapper Ludacris (who knew Arinci was into Ludacris?). After visiting, it was time for the game.

THE GAME

We went to the Star Walk, and that was a lot of fun. But then it was time for the game. And then, we lost. It was ugly. Enough said.

There were, however, some bright spots at the stadium. At halftime, they announced the 2006 Homecoming Court. Of course, for the fourth year running, BYX had a brother on Homecoming Court (Vanderbilt used to elect a guy and a girl as king and queen -- don't ask me to go into that diatribe -- now we elect one outstanding senior), and he, Jay Salato, won. It was great.

At the game, we sat (for the first time) in the "old people's section," also known as the "alumni section." It was weird, but it was fun to be there with Kat and her brother Alex.

DINNER & DEPARTURE

Then, after the game, Kat, Alex, and me went to dinner on Kat's parents (thanks John and Jeanne!). We ate at Maggiano's one of Nashville's newest Italian joints over on the corner of West End and 31st Ave N. It's one of my new favorite places to go.

We went back to Mark's, hung out, and then went to bed. The next day, we had to get up early again so that Kat and I could get back to Birmingham in time for me to make it to Mock Trial Team practice.

Even though the Dores lost, it was a fun weekend. And Katharyn and I can't wait to get back to Nashville (after, of course, getting ourselves established for a few years in Alabama).

FEELING: Nostalgic (yes, again)
LISTENING TO: The Alma Mater from the Spirit of Gold Marching Band CD that I bought at Homecoming

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