A Return to Baylor

Hilarious Video of Mom Jeans running: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhJxlrqlsX4

There are a few women in my life whom our concentric circles of crazy align so perfectly that it makes us far more dangerous together than we are individually. So it is with Maureen. Mo and I were room mates our sophomore and junior year at Baylor. People would tell us that they could not take being inside either of our brains for five minutes. Which we thought was full-on awesome.

It is strange that we ever became friends, really. She was the brainy and brash Irish St.Louis girl and I was the only slightly-less brash Southern Belle who relied on brownie baking to get through college. But then again if you are from the same tribe you have an unavoidable way of finding each other. She has been my friend in sunshine in rain; weddings, funerals and all other momentous seasons in-between. After John and I were engaged, I told him that we could not get married until Mo came back from Japan in 9 months. And yet John still likes Mo.

With Baylor now being on the map football-istically thanks to Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, (RG3,) a new bazillion-dollar stadium was built on campus in Waco. I caught wind of friends coming from Atlanta, Houston and Dallas to be there for the inaugural game against SMU on August 31st and I decided that our return to campus was long overdue. 

On August 22 I texted Mo that we needed to be there for the game on he 31st. She assumed October 31st, but silly her, no, I meant 9 days from then. She booked her flight, I scavenged for impossible tickets, began searching for matching shirts (vital) and because time was short, crafting matching Baylor jewelry for us. 

I squeezed in visits with two other of my Dallas / Ft. Worth steel magnolias (Gina and Stork,) and picked up Mo from the airport with “We Are Family.” blaring from my Rogue with all windows down. Because you are always the same age inside and darn if I’m not still 18. We did the scream / sing / dance reunion hug, grown men laughed at not with us and Maureen invited one old guy to come with us just for fun. Which I told her he may take the wrong way and there was no room since she had her huge suitcase.

Hair did & jewelry on we headed West to Waco Sunday Morning. First on the agenda was the Baylor Bookstore. Check. Bear Pit. Check. Old dorm room: roadblock. We quickly learned that the dorms are now on lockdown to keep out the riffraff. Which totally did not work. Soon with the help of a new friend who could tell we were not human traffickers we were on Memorial third floor. It smelled the exact same: burnt microwave pop corn and hair product with spray starch undertones. Yummy.

We crept down the sacred hall amused that the wood paneling survived the renovation and arrived at our Sophomore year dorm room. This venerable spot, with views of The Browning Library, was holy grounds for all we became in the 9 month time period of our lives. We snapped a picture of ourselves in front of our room and since the room next door was open, Mo tapped on that one first.

“Hi. We used to live next door. We used to have old ladies come back to look at our dorm room they lived in 30 years ago and now we’re the old ladies. Can we take a look around?”

“Of course! Come in.” said our new sweet friend.

Since she showed signs of cooperation, we asked if she would take our picture. In the bathroom. Reenacting shaving our legs. She said that the girls who lived in our actual room were there and they wouldn’t mind our looking around. We knocked on the bathroom door expectantly, curious yet nervous that we would be turned away. 

The co-ed answered the door as though she routinely received middle-aged women via her bathroom and told us to feel free to look around. Which took three seconds. Little had changed in our room despite 25 years of wear and tear. The formerly sophomore dorm was now a Freshman honors dorm. She said her roommate was coming back in a minute and would love to meet us which we found hard to believe. Sure enough, a few minutes later, the door opened and we yelled, “surprise, we used to live in your room!” to a shocked Freshman. What else could we have done?

The girls politely asked us to lunch and we told them we’d catch up with them at the Student Union Building. They insisted on walking with us, threw on their Baylor Line jerseys and we ventured to the SUB together. Maureen and I grabbed salads and reminisced about how only guys used to run in the Baylor Line (The Freshman who form the line for the football team to run through) We looked at each other, began laughing hysterically and knew that we owed it to the generations of Baylor Women who never got to run to open McClane Stadium and run in The Baylor Line. 26 years later.

Yes, George and Laura Bush and a ton of other important people were there, yes security was NUTS and yes, we did have tickets to the game which cost a kidney. We are law-abiding citizens, and typically make excellent choices. But there are in every life those handful of times when fate taps you on the shoulder and beckons you under the rope and you really would be crazy to hesitate.  Maybe it was the late Robin Williams’ sentimentally whispering “Carpe Diem” in my ear or maybe just because I am woman hear me roar or maybe it was regret over those four years of wearing dresses, hose and pumps to football games, but I did it. I ran with the Baylor Line. 

The scene from the field unfolded in slow-motion; beautiful green grass, jubilant alumni like me so thrilled to have a winning team, thousands on their feet cheering, reliving their glory days. And I ran. In flip-flops and mom jeans with purse slung over my shoulder. I ran on pure adrenaline from the utter joy of living life to the fullest. In total awe and disbelief that life could be this flat out beautiful. I ran, until I felt a velvet swoosh to my left which stopped me cold.

The perfect dreds swayed in slow motion as my crazy dream sequence suddenly got totally out of hand. There to my left was Robert Griffin III, whom I totally adore. I caught up with him (i know, right?) and swarmed him with the others, my iPhone randomly capturing me, then him, then me screaming. It did not capture his gentle yet firm velvet right arm prying me off of his body. This Moses of a man brought us into the promised land after wandering in the desert 40 years and I got to stalk him. Up close.

The Bears emerged from their locker room, the fireworks began in circular motion around the top of McClane and the Freshman ran to get to their seats. So I did as well. They all peeled off to the right and mom jeans went left. I was reunited with Mo at our seats who still cannot believe that I got to and she was prevented from, running in The Baylor Line. Together we continued to soak in the surreality of the epic day, thick in memories of our felt-like-yesterday past, amazed that so much time had passed and we had come so far. 

 

 

10 thoughts on “A Return to Baylor

  1. You captured it perfectly! My sisters and I, all members of your generation of Baylor girls, just returned from our own pilgrimage to the new stadium. We too laughed about wearing dresses, hose, and heels to those early games. We too complained about girls never getting to sit with the Baylor Line unless you were someone’s “date,” which was a joke because we all knew that on a campus where the girl to boy ratio was 3 to 1, Baylor boys rarely asked anyone out! We can’t believe that it is the same Baylor. So thank you, Jinny, for running across the field for all of us proud Baylor women who never got to, and for stalking RG3 for all of us old ladies who love him so much!

  2. Jinny, This is Mike Albers’ mom – Carole Albers. I read your account of running in the Baylor Line. I was laughing and crying at the same time. You are so very precious. Your writing is God-given and beyond awesome. You write words so vividly that I can picture in my mind what you are saying. I’m so glad you had this glorious experience and that you shared it with your friends. I love your exuberance for life. Keep on writing. You are a treasure. Love, Carole

  3. Oh, Jinny! I was laughing so hard, my 8-year-old got out of bed to see what was going on! I almost started singing, “I’m shaving my legs these days because I want to…” when I read about you in the Memorial bathroom. Thank you, thank you, thank you for running for all of us who never go to. I love you and miss you from the wonderful Woodway days! Jennifer (Collins) Calfee

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