It goes without saying that there is one and only one state that might make a decent tattoo (hint: not Wyoming) – one that people make waffle irons to honor – and a great ambition of my adult life is to consistently be the most obnoxious person in the room every March 2nd I spend outside these borders. I suspect the reasons why are something I’ll keep chewing on for a lifetime, and that’s just fine: this obsessive braggadocio has evolved dramatically over the past five years, and I am now nothing of the 17 year old wanting to escape to the northeast. But in an effort to atone for past sins, I’ve compiled some materials from my student-taught-course-that-never-was –Texas History through Food and Literature** –for reference and perusal by all those who were either born here or got here as fast as they could.
When I was 17 I went to one of those info sessions on Rice that I’ve since helped host as an alumna, in a hotel ballroom and on a dreary day. I don’t remember much (re: anything) from the actual talk. But I remember two of them women who had signed up to speak running up to each other and reacting in precisely the way women react whenever they come across a good friend who they haven’t seen for a while in public and at random, and I remember that one of them was married to the third presenter. And I remember the man sitting next to me, San Antonio-southern, drawling “Goddamn those Rice people just stick together, don’t they, and don’t shut up about it.”
I had driven over the summer prior, wandering campus for 3 or 4 hours unattached to a tour, and summarily dismissed the school as “too rich” for me (again, teenage impressions are ridiculous). My mother had to drag me to the info session and I had planned to spend it texting. But that comment piqued my interest, lodging itself inside my brain, and in the year that’s passed since I graduated – since walking across campus twice at 3 a.m. the night before in a cataclysmic downpour, since lining up in a 6 a.m. haze of coffee and champagne, since absolutely not tearing up nope I wouldn’t do that during the Martel de-matriculation – I’ve found it to be absolutely true.
Some examples: I wind up in fragmented versions of different college friend groups weekly. I wound up in Durham for 48 hours, posted a picture on Facebook, and had a fellow ’12 grad message me within 15 minutes offering to show me around during his finals period. In keeping with our normally steady stream of communication, I texted a grand and hazy total of 32 pictures from the morning of Beer Bike to my former co-coordinator, who was stranded in Japan. I’ve had lunch more times than I can count with people I knew-of-but-didn’t-actually-know while a student and they’ve all been great. I wound up working somewhere where my boss, our president, and four other colleagues all went to Rice and where our board is on the Rice board. Six months after graduating I formed a company with a fellow Martelian I somehow wasn’t friends with until my senior year, prompting every unsuspecting acquaintance we’ve had from college (a Martelian in Amman, a fellow Global Health minor at Baylor, a guy I talked to for 30 minutes once my freshman year) to come out of the woodwork with a new way to support us. I flew halfway across the globe and ran in a Hanszenite from my advising coalition.
Anyway, maybe it’s me – my career path and those of my closest friends are related or overlapping to a degree that treating graduation with any sense of finality last year seemed frankly ridiculous. But for whatever reassurance it provides the 2013 set of grads, I’m happy to anecdotally attest that the see-you-later cliché rings true, and graduating from Rice should lack a since of finality. Something in our weirdness forces us to coalesce.