Last week, I spent my bonus day off (I’m now at three weeks and a day of vacation) on taking my nephew on a college tour at CNU. Earlier, my mom suggested that I just pick a random Saturday or something and give the tour myself. I didn’t register to her that in the roughly 13 years since I graduated, nearly every building that was there has been demolished.
I still got to embarrass him and his sister, though.
When we got to the admissions office, I yelled. The receptionist, Donna, still was there. She ran over and gave me a hug. And then Michael and Shonda got them, too. After we spent some time catching up, we started our tour.
The format completely changed. There’s now a video and a PowerPoint. The presenter even mentioned how the school is proud of how Trible wiped away effectively every vestige of the Japanese-themed architecture that dominated the campus due to a hefty donation from Canon during the college’s early days.
The tour only pointed out
- the Freeman Center, our gym (which is now also the new home of Gaines Theater);
- the Trible Library (somewhere in there is structural steel from the Capt. John Smith Library, and that’s the only thing that keeps me from being terminally angry about it);
- York River Hall, the newest freshman-only dorm, if I’m not mistaken;
- the Student Union, which opened right after I officially left but was still involved with The Captain’s Log and my fraternity, so it’s the only new building I know; and
- Luter Hall, one of the academic buildings.
I was a little surprised by how short the actual tour part of the tour was was. In my day, we at least pointed to every building. Sure, they did point to Hiden-Hussey Commons, but said nothing about Santoro of James River, barely touched on East Campus, said nothing about Potomac River Hall and I guess it really makes sense to not bother with upperclassmen dorms on a freshman tour. But at least go inside New McMurran and Forbes. I also wanted to see that weird addition-not addition to James River Hall and the one spot on campus that still looks the way it did in the second half of my college career. (A tree and a sculpture were removed from the Santoro courtyard, so I can’t truly say that looks like it did in 2001.)
I got to see my former boss, Angela, before we left. We also spoke in animated tones in front of Michael and Shonda.
When we headed home, I did point out a few things.
I drove past Ratcliffe Hall, which is now an athletic center and server room. I first met Renée there in January 2002.
Finally, I wound my way through the Hidenwood neighborhood, making remarks about how I can’t believe I used to bike about two miles back and forth to class for a full semester because I didn’t want to buy a parking decal, and drove past my old fraternity house on Deep Creek Road.
The building renovations finally have been completed, and it looks decent. I wish I could have gone in.
If I were younger, I probably would have anyway.
Overall, it was great to be back. Michael is interested in band, and got a separate tour of the Ferg and met a staff member with the band department. I think he wants to go there. I’d jump to the opportunity to be there with him for Freshman Move-In.
Although so much had changed, CNU felt like home. I through about all the antics I had there, like allegedly putting soap in the geese fountain now next to the chapel and mattress jousting on the Great Lawn and the Slam ‘N’ Jam and the parties and the late nights at the paper and the friendships I made nearly 18 years ago that persist to this day. Christopher Newport University set me down the path I’m on, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I hope Michael eventually gets to say the same thing.