The initial glow of Oxford has started to wear off. While I’m still enjoying it here, I am coming to a point where I have to confront the reality of being a semi-grown up. The existential and absurd questions that occupied me when I arrived—ranging from “How am I going to save the world?” to “Is that building featured in Harry Potter?”—are being overtaken by a bit more practical considerations. I need to figure out a thesis topic. I need to have some sort of career path. And, at some point, I need to make some new friends and round out the non-academic side of my life.
It is, after all, a bit isolating being a graduate student in a new country. It’s crazy to say this, given how desperate I was to get out of Princeton just four weeks ago, but to that effect I really miss the band. When my screensaver pops up, displaying four years of band photos, I almost reflexively wind up on facebook, trying to figure out where in the library the band got to on its last march around or what exactly our field formation was supposed to be. Football season is in full swing, and well Princeton football really sucks, that doesn’t stop me from remembering the last four years of watching Princeton lose as some of the best times of my life. While I’m sure I will discover something equally great in my time at Oxford, at this point, the comparison is between a known wonderful thing that is happening right now and some unknown something I hope to discover in the future. It’s a recipe for nostalgia.
This is all a very long lead in for something that ought to need no introduction. Last night, I brought Kevin Smith (’07 OCx2A), Ben Elias (’05 PExDMxLLxFLL), and Dave Casazza (’10), all friendly faces and current and former members of the band, to Worcester for formal hall. It was a wonderful evening: I really loved the idea of being able to bring friends to “my” college, “my” formal hall, and “my” college bar. It was equally nice to be able to bring us together in a place that is very far from Powers Field.
Of course, despite our best efforts to show that, when not wearing orange plaid, we are in fact normal people, our conversation drifted to the band. Dave started talking about the freshman—the class of ’13, that is—and that evoked some stories from Ben about some members of the class of ’01, who graduated his freshman year. While that is a pretty wide age range—Mark Pescatore ’01 graduated when the ‘13ers were entering the second half of elementary school—the connections between them didn’t seem strange. I’ve never quite understood the supposed spiritual connection that is the Princeton alumni network, but in the band, the bond still feels incredibly strong, even with people I barely know.
As I evolve from band leader in the thick of things to crusty alum on the sidelines, it’s nice to know that I share experiences with everyone who has graduated from the band before me and everyone who will join it in the future, and that these experiences provide, at the very least, a bit of camaraderie and friendship. I miss the band—but so do a lot of people, and when we get together, we can collectively commiserate about how back in our day, we played in every library, wrote funnier shows, were the scourge of athletics, and knew how to lobster correctly. And then we can talk about how, despite it all, we still love the band, whatever and wherever it is. Beat Penn.
If I book now, a flight to reunions is only three hundred quid.