When I first got here, the volunteers of the group before mine called me ‘Georgetown.’ I hadn’t meant to mention my university so much. I’ve gotten less snobby about school with every passing year, and in my experience GU doesn’t impress much outside of the foreign policy crowd anyway. But I came to Mexico straight out of college, and it was my major touchstone for the last four years.
A friend brought it to my attention and I’ve tried to stop using the name so much, even here on the blog. But with all the debates that have been cycling through the navel-gazing loop of Slate and Atlantic and New Yorker comment pieces about the nature of college, I’ve been thinking about it more. I disliked old money at Georgetown and the extent to which everyone in DC fetishized the northeast; how fashion went off the deep end my sophomore year and everyone in the city started dressing like they were about to go sailing with the Kennedys in Nantucket, all boat shoes and pastel pants and little anchors and sailboats peppering everything. But it’s an idiosyncrasy of mine that I look back to the hoary old campuses of the East Coast and the glory days of an American aristocracy growing up in prep schools, heading to the Ivy League, and then entering civil service or elected government.
We play down how much our undergraduate institutions mean to us. We don’t call ourselves Harvard men or Georgetown men anymore, don’t get together and sing the alma mater for old times’ sake. I don’t know if it’s that they don’t leave as much a mark on us as they used to or if we’re determined not to be tied to something so solid and old in our eagerness to be young and restless and free. But I am a Georgetown man or an East Coast man and I want to be, because there’s something that lives in those ancient, ivy-obsessed ruins that’s fading away everywhere else.