This year Ouachita Baptist University celebrates its 125th anniversary. September 6, 1886 was the opening of a little college that has since played a big role in the lives of many young people.
This year, as we celebrate this milestone for Ouachita, they’ve encouraged us to blog each Tuesday in September on various subjects. To start off, the alumni office has challenged us to think on our favorite Ouachita memory.
Favorite Ouachita memory? How do you nail it down? For many of us, one memory includes “I met my spouse at Ouachita.” I met my wife there. Two of the deacons in the church I serve met their wives there. I know dozens of people who came to Arkadelphia single and left either with a spouse or a definite date to have one.
And I would hate for anyone to think that meeting Ann Hibbard wasn’t the best thing that has happened to me, short of salvation by the Grace of God, ever. In any context or situation—whether OBU memory or favorite truth about Jacksonville High, that I didn’t marry anyone from there.
There’s just a couple of problems with using “I met Ann at OBU” as my favorite memory. 1. It seems trite and predictable. I do enough predictable around here, why do it now? 2. I can’t actually tell you when I met her at OBU. I know that sounds odd, but it’s true. I know I met her when I was dating someone else, so I foolishly didn’t store the memory.
So it’s not fair to claim the “meeting spouse moment” as my favorite OBU memory. Because I can’t remember it. And she had graduated and it was summer break when we decided to get married. So, that’s an Arkadelphia memory, like Fendley’s Jewelry or a Wal-mart that closed at 10pm (spoiled students with a SuperCenter!).
What is my favorite memory?
My favorite OBU memory actually doesn’t come from student times. There were lots of great moments and there are plenty of regrets of missed opportunities for those days, but nothing commends itself as “favorite” from then.
To give you some context, I’m not really a person that answers “Where are you from?” well. I grew up an Air Force kid, and my freshman year at OBU my family moved from Arkansas to Georgia (and now they live in Louisiana). Home has always been wherever I’ve eaten the most dinners in the past month, and that’s not been bad.
After OBU, Ann and I moved a few times, trying to make it from this job to that one, following dreams and hopes. Like a good number of folks, we couldn’t wait to get out of Arkansas. Then, once we did, there was something missing.
2008 saw us living in Arkansas for the first time in 8 years. We had left a young married couple, and came back a young family of five. It felt good to be back in a state that we could shout “Woo!” in the midst of crowded places and not be lunatics.
That September, I had the opportunity to go the Pastor’s Conference at OBU. Officially, the Chesley and Elizabeth Pruet School of Christian Studies Pastor’s Conference would be the title, though I attended the “Department of Religion and Philosophy” when I was a student.
Walking on campus is the first real memory I have going somewhere and feeling like I was home. Not simply because of people---I’m always glad to see family and go where they are. But because where I was is a place that I feel like I’ll always belong.
Being back on campus that time 3 years ago is my favorite OBU memory. Professors remembered me, we had good conversations and good times.
But what I remember most, and best, about Ouachita is that it’s one place that I always feel like I belong. From the time we visited when my older sister was checking out colleges through the last time, and looking ahead to this year’s PSCS Pastor’s Conference and Homecoming.
The campus has changed. My old dorm was reduced to rubble, but I got a brick from it! Walt’s is gone, the bridge is gone, and Mitchell Auditorium is gone. Maddox and Anthony aren’t the new dorms anymore. I’ve gone from pitying the poor guys who stayed at OBU to work to envying them (including residence directors!)
My favorite OBU memory is just that: it’s the one place that always draws a memory of home.
But don’t worry, Mom. It’s not my memory of home-cookin’. That’s always going to be you :)