I'm starting to think I should just keep my suitcase packed. It's the middle of a nine-week period in which I'm out of town for seven of those weekends. This is not a bad thing - it is fun to go to football games and see old friends and go to academic conferences (yes, I'm a nerd), but things are a little crazy.
This weekend was Baylor Homecoming. Homecoming at Baylor is a Big Deal. I hadn't been in a few years and had kindof forgotten what an anachronism the weekend can be. I don't mean that in a mean-spirited way, but the thing is, most universities do not have big parades and bonfires that everyone attends before the football game. But at Baylor, not only do they have these things, everyone goes. I mean, everyone. I overslept through the parade and ended up missing seeing several friends.
The weekend was made oh-so-fun by the fact that my college roommate, The Great and Powerful Ploz, decided to come down for the weekend. She arrived in Austin on Thursday night and we had a great time Friday just hanging out around town and enjoying the beautiful weather at Shady Grove.
We got to Waco in time for me to have tea with my mentor and friend, Betsy, which was wonderful as it is each time we get to meet. Then it was off to dinner and on to the bonfire.
Where else in the world does a pep rally begin with an invocation? Seriously. Baylor was not like this when I attended, and I'm not sure how I feel about a kid in military uniform saying a prayer for the pep rally. I mean, of course we ask God to keep us safe, but is it really appropriate to try to make sacred an event that is at its essence frivolous? Whatever. It's Baylor. We just about lost it when he said something about 2012, and started laughing even harder when we learned that the university chaplain would be emceeing the evening. We did our part to make the evening more spiritual:
We also mingled and ran into several friends. Not a single member of my pledge class was at the alumnae tent. Oh, well. My baby sister and Ploz and I managed to push our way up to the front to get a picture after the fire got going. Fun, fun.
As I mentioned earlier, my sister and I overslept and missed getting to the parade, but we watched it on TV. (That's right; they televise the Homecoming parade. It's a Big Deal.) I called Daddy to tell him that he would be proud that his brothers made the classiest float in the parade: (This is even funnier if you were part of our group of DC interns in summer 1999. But you'd've had to've known the real Miss Kansas.)After that, my sister and I went to the Classics reception at the new Lounge of Destiny, a Homecoming tradition. This year's reception was scandal-rific with the news that one of our old professors is marrying his student. That led to a very entertaining brunch of trying to figure out their age difference (17 years! Only at Baylor!) before heading over to the football game.
Now. Being a Baylor football fan means you have to live with a certain level of resignation. They're going to let you down, and they're going to let you down often. I hadn't attended the Homecoming game in several years, but it's a good chance to see friends. Ran into my friend AP, who's up and stopped practicing law and saw lots of other people and figured that would be the highlight of the game. It was no surprise when Kansas went into the half with a 35-17 lead.
The boys came back after the half and didn't score a single point in the third quarter. And people started to leave. But. BUT! Something happened in the fourth quarter. I don't know what it was, but the defense finally started stopping Kansas, and the offense managed to score 19 points for the win. It was unbelievable - one of the best comebacks I've ever seen. Everyone on the alumni side was standing in their seats for the last ten minutes of the game. I've never seen that, either:
When the clock expired and we could all believe that Baylor actually won, you should've seen the celebration. They pre-emptively laid down the goalposts - Baylor's never won 3 Big 12 games in a season. It was so much fun, and so nice to leave a Homecoming game that Baylor won - the first time that's happened since 1997. Baylor only needs two more wins to qualify for a bowl, and with Oklahoma State, OU, Tech, and A&M remaining on the schedule, I think they can do it.
After that, I headed over to campus to walk around my old buildings for a few minutes. Baylor is such a special place, and despite all the anachronisms (prayers at pep rallies, the unbelievable conformity), I had a really good experience there. My professors genuinely cared - and continue to care - about me, and the place where "the bells rang every hour from the tower in the trees" is full of love. Those bells rang to remind me that it was time to go back to my real life in Austin. I hopped in the car and drove down to 18th Street, and somehow ended up behind a friend from Austin. He got out at the light to stay hello, the light changed, and we both got on 35, south toward home.