This is my alma mater’s mascot. It is an ear of corn. Really.
I do feel a little sheepish when I’m trying to explain some of our cheesier traditions to a non-Cobber. That whole thing about walking under the bell tower and never getting married is pretty embarrassing, for example. And when you’re not with a big group of fellow alumni, the cheers just sound ridiculous.
In my first few years after graduating, in fact, I thought all I’d really taken away from Concordia were my degree and my friends. The rest of it, I thought, was just silliness, ploys to keep graduates involved and giving back to the school.
When I walk along the streets downtown, I look strangers in the eye and smile. It’s a habit I cannot break, even though fully 95% look away or gaze back with confusion or even disgust. It’s weird, too, because I test very solidly as “introvert” on every personality test I’ve ever taken.
This weekend I was back on campus again; a friend and I went up for our orchestra conductor’s final concert before his retirement. As we walked through the grounds, I suddenly remembered. I used to be so tired of being “required” to nod and smile at everyone I passed. It was a Thing at Concordia, and sometimes it felt so silly. I’d tuck my head down, some nights, and guiltily shuffle my way to my dorm, feeling that another friendly, hopeful greeting might just make me physically ill.
When my friend and I said hello to faculty we hardly knew and exchanged chit-chat with the student behind the counter in the campus store, it didn’t feel that way any more. It felt like home, an explanation for Why I Am The Way I Am. A reminder that I took much more away from that place than I thought.
Which, I have to admit, is awfully corny.