” … But sometimes when the springtime comes,
And the sifting moonlight falls —
They’ll think again of this night here
And of these old brown walls,
Of white old well, and of old South
With bell’s deep booming tone,
They’ll think again of Chapel Hill and —
Thinking — come back home.”
Thomas Wolfe, class of 1920
Today I received a phone call and an email from the Alumni Association, of which I have not been a member this year for the first time since I graduated. They’ve been sending me monthly letters inviting me to come back, but when we redid the budget this year, my membership was, sadly, one of the things that had to go. I miss getting my Alumni Review magazine and I miss having my calendar with scenes from around campus, but really it’s been okay.
Yesterday (or maybe Monday), I was looking at the current rates online and filled out the “Lifetime Membership” form… except for the payment bit. I wanted to see just how much it would cost to simply buy a lifetime membership (in comparison to paying every year, for instance), but I couldn’t afford it so I closed out the page.
It seems I forgot that I’d signed into my account first and clicked the “renewal” button, which I suppose triggered the system… and generated a message to the membership coordinator who wanted to let me know that there was a “problem” with my GAA lifetime membership payment and would I like to resubmit? This made me laugh, and I emailed her back to let her know that I simply cannot afford it right now and did not mean to trigger anything like that in the system.
But it got me thinking about Chapel Hill in the autumn, which is my favorite time of year there, with the cool breeze and the leaves crunching underfoot and the excitement of the football game on Saturday and the smell of basketball around the corner, of lying in a sunny spot on the Quad or falling asleep in the library, of the while columns of the Well flanked by the red and orange and brown of Old East and Old West.
And yes, of Thomas Wolfe, and of how thinking does bring us home, no matter the distance.
Two more UNC quotations that I like.
“What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well, or the bell, or the stone walls, or the crisp October nights or the memory of dogwoods blooming. Our loyalty is not only to William Richardson Davie though we are proud of what he did 200 years ago today. Nor even to Dean Smith, though we are proud of what he did last March. No, our love for this place is based on the fact that it is as it was meant to be, the University of the people.”
-Charles Kuralt, J-School alumnus, at the UNC Bicentennial in 1993.
“The biggest fallacy about this whole Carolina-Duke rivalry is the 8-mile thing, as if proximity somehow indicates similarity. It’s like assuming East and West Germany must be comparable since they were close to each other. Duke fans believe spending 196 hours in a tent indicates passion and devotion. Carolina fans believe 196 hours in a tent indicates a telling lack of other social engagements.”
-Adam Lucas, Tar Heel Blue columnist