G is for Glory
Each week my son has show and tell at pre-school that correlates to the week’s letter. This week is G.
G is for Glory.
I thought about having him bring this enormous poster in and telling his little three year old friends and classmates about his mama who once could run like a deer and kick like a girl. But instead, we decided on bringing the Gup A. If the Gup A can travel underwater and rescue sea creatures, then driving up I-95 in a forest green jeep for twelve hours to Providence, Rhode Island to attend the 20th anniversary of the 1993 Big East Championship Women’s Soccer Team, was like getting in my own time traveling Friar Gup – the Gup F.
I recently went back to visit my Alma Mata, Providence College.
A lot has changed on campus. This photo below is of futuristic Slavin Center.
In 1993, this photo would have been the talk of science fiction, as would cell phones. Our version of Instagram was an authentic smile you shared passing a fellow Friar on campus, or you could bring your 35 mm film to CVS and have it developed quicker by paying extra for 24 hour development. Tweeting was done in Raymond — the cafeteria — where you visited with friends, gossiped over sodas and lingered over linguine. This all being said, once you got past a Sopranos looking cafeteria manager who would scan your ID card through the electronic counter. That was the extent of technology in the cafeteria. He did love the soccer girls and let us go through when we forgot our IDs. He was yet another kind-hearted Providence native. His thick Rhode Island accent would punctuate our laughter when our group came in giggling after practice. How I miss those days.
We’d all gather enthusiastically on Wednesdays for Chicken Cordon Bleu. I can still feel my knife and fork cut through the thick chicken cutlet with pastel yellow cheese oozing out. Teenage metabolism and practice three times a day during pre-season pretty much gave us free will to eat and drink whatever our Friar hearts desired. We’d sit idle in Raymond cruising the co-eds, no need for creeping on Facebook — we’d just stare. Or at least I would. After a meal, we’d all migrate over to Slavin to check our mail – real mail, with postage stamps and return addresses.
In 1993, you entered Slavin from the top or bottom. If you entered Slavin from the bottom, you would go down a staircase on the left passing a wall plastered with BOP (Board of Programmers) posters that advertised movie nights on Slavin Lawn or intramural basketball in the rec center in huge block letters painted with bright primary colors.
There was no flat ground level door –certainly not a glass lined one with the Providence College emblem centered on the entrance doors.
if you entered from the bottom stairs, you would find students bustling in and out checking their mailboxes for mail, held in their hands that now hold cell phones, tablets, laptops, and briefcases. Current PC students now gather in Slavin Center for fresh brewed Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. We had to go off -campus for that luxury.
If you entered Slavin from the top, climbing the stairs that gave you a better view of Slavin Lawn and Harkins Hall, you would pass lounge chairs, not fancy at all, probably a polyester fabric, not the leather chairs that line Slavin now.
One thing that was familiar for me was the framed art above. It is where it always was – between the two staircases of the lower and upper level — since 1992 when I was a freshman at PC. Two decades later it is still there. I would pass it going down or up the staircase. I do have to admit to entering mostly from the basement level where I would grab my mail and get a sub from Ronzio’s before heading to class. My mom sent me letters almost every day, if not a holiday card as well. Right about now, I would most likely be picking up a Halloween card from my mom, addressed to Providence College, c/o Megan Miller, McVinney, PO Box 404, Providence, RI 02918.
Now the BOP offices are where Friars once got their mail. I looked around curiously when I was back on campus Sunday, trying to find the mailboxes. I asked three girls curled up together on a couch, “Where do ya’ll get your mail?’ They replied in unison, “Raymond.” I remember seeing alumni on campus back in the 90’s, walking around with a smile on their face, clicking photos. I was that alumni tourist Sunday, but unlike a tourist — I knew each curve of campus — every inch of detail. The memories were within me like a giant maple — they came leaking out — thick and course in texture.
It was a fun little social event, going to Slavin — Facebook face to face of the nineties. We’d usually go with a friend or two. Since there was nine of us who all came up together on the women’s soccer team, we’d go in groups. We were known on campus as the women’s soccer team. Somewhere in those short four years, we grew from girls into women. Many of the upper class-women on our team served as mentors and guides. Together we navigated the terrain of college where we shared broken hearts, inflated dreams, all-nighters, Western Civ, exciting highs, and often silent lows. Together we formed a bond that never could be broken. Not even twenty years later. We all scattered after college, going our own separate ways – some to New England, some to the West Coast, me to Wyoming, and some to New York. We carried each other then and we carry each other now.
I was reminded of this deep bond this last Sunday. My husband, son, and I drove North on I-95 — past DC, past Baltimore, curving up and along the Jersey Turnpike, passing New York’s bright nightscape. We left Raleigh at 10:30 am on Friday and arrived in Massachusetts, in a fall foliage covered New England town. We arrived at my sister-in-law’s house at 1 am. We hugged and went to bed. The next morning we visited with family and spent the day apple picking at a farm in New Hampshire (I will post more about that trip later on another post) . We ordered pizza when we got back from the farm and watched the Red Sox. Sunday was a perfect day for a reunion, riding high on the Red Sox Saturday night win.
Being surrounded by deep yellows, feisty oranges, and river deep reds, a dormant place in my heart was activated.
I fell in love with New England over the course of the autumn of 1992. And this love lasted a lifetime. In fact, I credit that love with my current: my husband, a Boston native.
Playing on the women’s soccer team, we traveled up and down and in and out of small New England towns and big cities in the Big East conference. I was a Wyoming girl. My nickname in college was Cheyenne – Cheyenne Meg to some, and Wyoming to others. I believe I was the first Wyoming resident to attend Providence College. Some people even believed I rode a horse to school. I was always called Meg by my friends though, my teammates. Rarely called Megan, perhaps by professors and parents. My time at Providence was only four years. Just like my son, who looks forward to school, I too, looked forward to each year there. I was always sad to leave campus, as I was Sunday afternoon. Somewhere in Delaware, on the drive back, I balled. I forgot how much I loved these women, but I was certainly reminded how this love endured.
Being surrounded by my friends and teammates was magical. As one wise upper classwomen said, “When we are all together, I can still feel the fire.” It was fire indeed — a fire that never will go out, always ablaze, burning in the Henle’s fissure: the connective tissue between the muscle fibers of the heart.