I have a confession. Although I am not a Bowdoin graduate, every 5 years I love going as the spouse to my husband’s reunion. A once sleepy liberal arts college tucked away in the pines of Brunswick, ME, Bowdoin has grown into a top rated and highly sought after school for the smartest young minds in the country.
I have another confession. I love small, interesting B&B’s. And 5 years ago, we found the Kismet Inn in Bath, ME, just up the road from Brunswick and Bowdoin. Innkeeper, Shadi Towfighi, is an ex-pat from Iran. Her hospitality is only exceeded by her political insights and her ability to give an incredible full body exfoliation skin treatment. Shedding layers of skin, I now practically glow in the dark. And I cannot reminisce about our time without mentioning her mother’s special recipe for saffron eggs an experience representative of her all organic approach to meals.
Our bodily comforts aside, the re-union of 48 or so of the nearly 250 classmates who shared 4 years, forty years ago (okay, do the arithmetic, nothing to hide) is scary, humbling and exhilarating all at the same time. After the first night of catching up on careers, kids, and current familial relationships, things loosen up a bit and people begin to talk about past and yes, even future dreams. As a spouse, I got not only to observe but also to spend some time making new friendships and re-establishing old ones with Susan, Bonnie, Maria and many others……
Beyond the people, the program was extraordinary. Relying on alums for “back to school” programs, we were privileged to hear from Cynthia McFadden of ABC news to Thomas Pickering, former ambassador to Jordan, Russia, Israel and the UN. Cynthia’s insights into her “lean in” career had even the men in the room ready to jump up an answer to the call of this self-described feminist. Hooray for Cynthia’s stand that anyone who believes that women deserve equal opportunities and rewards when earned is feminism. So any of you women out there is afraid of that descriptor, think again and be proud to proclaim your status (as I have always been and will continue to be).
Thomas Pickering’s 40 minute, no-notes analysis of American foreign policy in Syria and Iran illuminated the room with a sense of the delicate balance that our foreign service tries to preserve as they move negotiations along as best possible while potential disasters loom large. Melding his political analysis with our innkeeper’s pride in the Iran she knows about which we don’t often hear, challenges us to think hard about the reality of life for people living under a government that doesn’t exactly represent what the populace is all about.
The evenings were filled with wonderful entertainment. The first night a concert pianist playing Bach, Rachmaninoff, and Gershwin followed, after a short break, by Maine comedian, Bob Marley (no relation to the singer). The second night was a huge banquet in the field house as people started to break away and reluctantly head home, while making promises to “keep in touch.”
The highlight of the trip was a visit with Saul’s favorite chemistry professor, now retired, but living close by–Dana Mayo, PhD. Presenting my husband Saul with his 6th edition of Microscale Organic Laboratory was so poignant as we spoke about the life and transformation of Bowdoin and ourselves. He and his lovely wife, Jean, were perfect hosts as we got ready for the car ride back to the Boston Logan airport and return from a past life back to our future.