“I have a flight that gets in today at 3:20 PM. Want to pick me up? ”
I received this text message early Saturday morning (before the first day of classes) from one of my best friends on campus, a girl I had met during our First-Year Orientation in an embarrassing incident (on my part). I remember walking in front of Ross Commons, coming back from some Orientation session to find a group of students sitting in a circle with one student walking around the circle. I stopped to figure out what exactly they could be doing until I saw one of the students in the circle stand up and chase the other student that had been walking around. In that instant, it came to me, they were playing “Duck-Duck-Goose.” The last time I had played this game was probably in elementary school and a playful rush streamed through my blood. Fortunately, the students noticed me and in friendly Middlebury fashion, beckoned me over to join. I remember sitting in the circle, reliving the nervous anticipation of someone tapping your head and yelling “Goose!” And then – it happened. I got up and bolted for the guy who thought I was the one he could out run. I was out to prove to my new first-year friends that I indeed was the fastest in the group until, all of a sudden, I slipped. The dew-covered grass became my worst enemy as I landed on my backside on the ground. What made it worse was that one particular girl in the circle could not stop laughing and laughed LOUDLY. From that moment on in the game, no matter what else happened, this girl kept making reference to my epic fall. Who knew 3 years later, this would be the friend that I would instantly replied to with:
I had not seen her since we both left for abroad (she went to China and I went to Chile) in the winter. I knew our reunion would be the highlight of my day except the fact that every time I would mention it to someone, they would warn me of the Severe Thunderstorms and Tornado Watch approaching the Vermont area. But the sky looked pretty clear to me when I left at 2:30 PM… until I started seeing the traffic lights swinging due to the high winds on the way out of Middlebury. By the time I reached my friend at the Burlington International Airport, the winds had street signs completely blown over. As happy as we were to see one another, our hugs were quick as we realized conditions were only worsening. The rain began as we were pulling out and by mid-way it poured to the point where we could barely see through the window.
As excited as we were to come back to Middlebury for our senior year, after being abroad, my friend and I were both concerned about the readjustment (reconnecting with old friends, adapting to the workload, making this place home again, etc.). Jokingly, with still some worry in our voices, we kept making reference to how this “Severe Thunderstorm” may be a bad omen for the year. By the end of the drive, the rain began to settle. After we moved her things into the house (a house of 30 people, so more like a dorm), we sat in our common room to catch up with the house members we hadn’t seen in months, some an entire year. Already, it was so nice to talk to these people, to see how some things really hadn’t changed. Then, all of a sudden, one of the house members rushed into the common room and started screaming, “Come outside! Come outside!” Without question we followed along behind him. He took us behind the house, facing toward the Green Mountains.
My friend and I couldn’t see anything and thought he was just about crazy, but then, behind the clouds, we made out a huge rainbow. If we were still looking for omens, I think this was the one to accept.