Late October was homecoming weekend at Ye Olde Alma Mater of Kristy and I. Being outside the state and busy with work/studies, obviously neither of us went. I can’t speak for Kristy, but I never saw myself as a Homecoming type. I still don’t. For the most part, I am in contact with the people from college I want to be in contact (save for 2 or 3 that I haven’t heard from in longer than I’d like). Some people I wonder about, and if I really wanted to know more I could set aside my Facebook, but…some books are better left on the shelf.
So seeing people isn’t really a draw, but I do miss the place. I have a fixation with places that is a topic for a whole ‘nothing post. In this case, the place is campus. And in particular, I miss Norby.
If you’ve ever visited The College of William and Mary, you’ve probably met Norby. He’s right out front of the famous Wren Building. Norby, shorth for Norborne, “Lord Botetourt” Norborne Berkeley, 4th Baron Botetourt*. He was Governor of Virginia and a member of the Board of Visitors of The College. These days he’s posing on a pedestal between the Wren Building, The Brafferton and the President’s House.
Very early on in our time at The College, we developed a tradition of curtsying to the statue as we passed (generally on way to our evening walks through Colonial Williamsburg). I think it was me who suggested the move first but I can’t swear to that. All I know is that months after we’d started this activity, I found a book on the history of The College in the local section of the bookstore which validated the habit. Apparently, many, many moons ago, curtsying to Norby’s statue was required of freshmen co-eds (the guys bowed and doffed their freshmen-required beanies). It was amusing to find we’d unknowingly revived an old tradition–and a little sad to now that beyond our small knot of friends, the tradition was dead.
The book wasn’t clear about the details of the old version of the curtsy, but ours was simple: we’d come around Wren, up the sidewalk toward Norby’s back, then loop around to his front, line up (usually there were 4 of us) then execute our best, deepest curtsy, then we’d trot off down the sidewalk straight toward Confusion Corner and down DOG Street. Then we’d give the same deep curtsy coming back. I’m really surprised no one ever asked or commented. Granted, it was usually evening (often after dark, or in the deep twilight), but it’s right in front of the President’s House and the offices in The Brafferton, to say nothing of the Wren Building and the Confusion Corner traffic. You’d think we’d have gotten a comment at least.
I’ve held to it–even the few times I’ve returned to campus since graduating when passing Norb, I’ve paid the proper respects. But for me, it’s been more than half a decade since I’ve set foot on campus. It’s enough to make even the hoopla of Homecoming seem nostalgically attractive.