Where do we go now?
Sometimes I can be really eloquent. Giving a toast at a wedding, a briefing at work; I can really hit the post. I've been wanting to write about how I feel here for two days. But I haven't, stopped by disbelief, the taxes I couldn't bring myself to finish on Monday, and the belief that I wouldn't adequately be able to put together words to explain what Blacksburg and Tech have meant to me.
That picture is of a couple of my old room mates Jeff (in glasses) and Donnie tailgating at the Tech - USC game in August of 2004. I graduated from Virginia Tech in 1986, with a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies. 20 plus years later, we are still close friends. Probably closer than we were in school. We vacation together, are godparents to each others kids, and watch football obviously.
Blacksburg is a special place. When you're there, you might not realize how special. It's beautiful, peaceful and even knows how to have a good time. I have idyllic (and therefore heavily filtered) memories of my time at school. I think that's why all of my old room mates and I are still such good friends. When you leave Blacksburg, you realize that the real world isn't so beatiful, isn't so peaceful, isn't so special. And you reach out and hold on to whatever can give you a little of that Blacksburg feeling again. After 20 years you'll still see most of the alumni I know dressed pretty much like the kids you've been watching on TV this week. Virginia Tech Sweatshirts and Hats are ubiguitous.
Returning to Blacksburg, was to drink in that atmosphere, to rejuvenate the energy that the real world has sapped from you. Coming around the 460 bypass and seeing the mountains rise up beyond campus elated me. A burger at Mike's, a pitcher at Hokie House, a walk across campus returned me to the man of my youth. And now that bastard has let so much of the real world into Blacksburg, where it doesn't belong and isn't welcome.
It's amazing the lasting ties that we have to Tech. One old college friend is an agronomy professor there now. I spent Monday morning exchanging emails with him as he was locked in his office. Today I can't help but think about all the students that I met at his tailgate last Fall. Jeff, I'm sure, knew Dr. Librescu. Three or four of the victims so far have been international studies majors. The statistical improbability of that I can't explain. I graduated in a class of 6,000 with only 12 other international studies majors.
Soon the news vans will leave, hopefully the TV movie vans won't come right behind them, and we can all hope that the ugliness of the real world ebbs back out of town. God bless the victims, the heroes, the students, everyone.