Recently, I moved to a new town where my husband and I knew nobody. It isn’t far from where either of us grew up, so we didn’t completely lack a support network or sense of familiarity. At the same time, though, it was a new area and we had to start all over again with making friends. It made me long for the days of Lehigh, when my friends were just a hallway or ten-minute walk down Packer Ave. away.
Once the weather started warming up to an acceptable temperature for human habitation outdoors, we slowly began to explore the area. We stumbled across a 5k that was going to be happening near us, and the competitive side in us thought “Why not?” (Of course, the Blerch in me thought “Better question: why??”, so I tried to just ignore it.)
After a few weeks of training, Race Day came. I threw on my customary race-day apparel: running pants and a Lehigh shirt. In every race I’ve competed (which, full disclosure, has only been three so far), I’ve proudly worn the good ol’ brown and white. Whether it was for motivation (I got through five years at Lehigh, so I can make it through a 3.1-mile race…right?), because of superstition (I wore Lehigh last time and didn’t die, so it must be good luck), or just the fact that Lehigh shirts account for 75% of my wardrobe (got to love all the t-shirts you get in college!), it always made its way into my life the day of the race.
This race, though, was different. This time Lehigh wasn’t only represented on my shirt. As my husband (also a Lehigh alum) and I stood around waiting for the race to begin, a fellow runner asked me “Did you go to Lehigh?” It turns out he and his wife graduated from Lehigh and their daughter currently goes there. For the few minutes we had before the race, we talked about majors, Reunions, and of course the 150th. (Side note: ask any non-Lehigh person about “the 150th” and they’ll stare at you, waiting for you to finish your sentence by explaining the 150th what. But Lehigh people, well, they just know.) Making our way to the starting line, a smile spread across my face because I realized that no matter where I am, Lehigh will find me. That powered me all the way to the finish line with a personal record run.
After the race, we got chat more with our fellow Lehigh alum neighbors about our alma mater. I learned about the time before Taylor dorms were nicely renovated, and what Lehigh was like well before I had attended or even heard of it. This made me realize how our alums – old and new – connect us to Lehigh and help us fall even deeper in love with it. There’s a whole other Lehigh I don’t know about that existed in the past, as well as a new Lehigh that kept changing after I left. And it’s only through our alums that we’ll ever really get the whole picture and evolution of Lehigh.
Moral of the story: Lehigh may seem like it’s own little world for the four or more years we’re there, but it extends farther in distance and time than we realize. Even when you’re not physically at Lehigh, it will pop up where you least expect it … and give you a high to power you through race day.