There’s Nothing Like a Reunion

31 May

The University of Oregon is the only university whose mascot is a Disney character. Legend has it that a couple decades ago Disney got cross about it and said that the U of O couldn’t keep using the duck. They went to the archives and found a snapshot of the then president of the university shaking hands with Walt Disney himself – and that was the proof that he had agreed to the mascot’s use. I must say, I prefer the U of O duck over any other Disney character! GO DUCKS!

I am in SLC, fresh from EUG, heading to MSP and ultimately FSD.

Yes, I’m traveling. Alone, this time. No kids to keep an eye on, no dollies in tow, no Dora-the-Explorer suitcase trundling along behind my curly-headed child, stuffed with drawing paper and pencils and toys and snacks and used Kleenex.

It’s quite nice to be alone.

It’s also a little bit lonely.

The U of O campus.

I’ve been in Eugene, Oregon for a friend’s wedding. The wedding was lovely – outdoors, not too big, not too long, delicious cake. My friend and her smiling husband drove away in a 1947 (or was it ’48?!) fire engine and it was cute, quaint, and perfect.

The happy couple.

But Eugene held more than my dear friend’s wedding – it held family, friends, and innumerable memories.

It was 20 years ago exactly that I graduated from the University of Oregon. I’d been back to Eugene once, five years ago, but that was just for 36 hours and I was too distracted to spend much time on campus. This time I was able to walk around leisurely, gaze at the new buildings and old, and enjoy the atmosphere. I didn’t feel 18 again – no, the gray in my hair doesn’t allow for that fantasy – but I enjoyed myself immensely…perhaps BECAUSE I didn’t have to rush back to my dorm room and cram for a final exam.

My old dorm!

There’s nothing like a reunion – with old places or old friends or family. I was able to see many family members who graciously drove down from Washington to see me, and I met my new great-niece. She is, of course, adorable. I also saw my Eugene relatives and I had the privilege of staying with my aunt, which felt like coming home as I spent a lot of time with them over my college years. I think that I spent every single weekend at her house for at least the first 6 weeks of my freshman year. Mom and Dad were still in Germany, so my aunt’s home was a gift for a homesick kid.

I LOVE the rhododendrons and azaleas that abound in Eugene. I tried to grow one here in MN…it failed.

I also saw many college friends – some of whom I hadn’t seen in two decades – and was reminded of their quirks, their ways of speaking, their wonderful laughs. We sat outside at a restaurant along the Willamette River watching ospreys, river rafters and each other. I am so glad to know these people.

The Willamette River in Eugene, OR

Now I have to return to reality. To dirty clothes and dirty dishes. To unread piles of mail and a garden that has yet to be planted. To irritable kids and sticky kisses.

I’m ready to be back. Bring it on.

If you ever watched the movie Animal House…this is where it was filmed, at the University of Oregon. (Not that I’d necessarily recommend it as a movie!) Food fight, anyone?

The Matthew Knight Arena – just built within the last couple years. Phil Knight – a U of O grad and of Nike fame – gave the money for the arena in memory of his son who passed away.


10 Responses to “There’s Nothing Like a Reunion”

  1. cravesadventure May 31, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    Loving your post – great pics – ENJOY!!! Have a Great Day:)

  2. Judy Tracy May 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    So glad to see these photos- I took several pics on my phone, but they all disappeared. It was great to touch base with you!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 31, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

      It was wonderful seeing you, too, Judy! What a fun surprise. That stinks that your pics didn’t stick around! I’ll post more on facebook and be sure to tag you!

  3. Hotly Spiced May 31, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    What a fun time. I love how they left their wedding in a vintage fire truck – great photo. Did I tell you my father won a scholarship to the USA when he was 18? He went to Portland, Oregan and studied for a year at Grant High – and that’s where they filmed Mr Holland’s Opus! xx

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 31, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

      How fun!!!! That’s awesome – Oregon is a great state – beautiful! I didn’t realize that’s where Mr. Holland’s Opus was filmed – what a hoot!

  4. whatimeant2say June 1, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    You really take fabulous photos. That was a great post! I’m glad you enjoyed your trip!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell June 1, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

      Thank you so much – having a good camera is wonderful! (I have my dad to thank.) Even the weather cooperated – no rain!

  5. Paws To Talk June 4, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    Gretchen this looks like great fun. We hope you had a wonderful time!
    Bella and DiDi

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