When I was sixteen or seventeen, my mother and I drove up to Birmingham to visit UAB’s campus. We were driving around looking for a parking space when I first saw the Honors House. It was an old church repurposed for some sort of classroom. At the time, I didn’t know what for. I just knew that I had to be there. It was a calling as strong as any I’ve ever felt before or after.
As part of the Honors Program, I spent a lot of hours at that old church. I thought deep thoughts, had soul-searching conversations, explored my ideas of race, religion and social justice. Sitting on an old, busted sofa beneath one of the gorgeous stained-glass windows, I kissed my husband for the first time. I played pool and ping-pong. I studied. I lived.
This last weekend Ray and I had the chance to go back to the Honors House for the program’s 25th anniversary. Things have changed as they always do. There’s a new director and assistant director. The inside of the building has been renovated. The people we knew then have grown up, accepted more responsibilities, had kids, gained weight or lost it, but for those of us who came back – and I suspect for many of those who didn’t – the Honors House and what it stands for still shines like a beacon. Sounds dramatic, I know, but I really mean it. The HP was the closest thing I have ever known to a utopia, and it was absolutely wonderful to be there this weekend.
It was also absolutely wonderful to have an adult weekend. I love the babies, but this was the first time we’ve been away from both kids since we went to Mexico in 2007, and that doesn’t really count because I was pregnant with Jack. But now that he’s weaned (wiping of slightly tearful eye) it was the perfect time to get away. We stayed at the Hotel Highland and lucked out with a spectacular room – top floor with views of Five Points, the Vulcan and UAB. To top it all off, I got to have dinner at Surrins with my old college roommates.
Now it’s back to reality!