The chronicle of this woman's perpetual game of hide-and-seek with her ancestors
I arrived in Birmingham about 2 hours early for registration (I forgot about the time change), so I headed out to grab some lunch and wait it out. Turns out there are no fast food places in the immediate vicinity – the closest quickie food is about a 15 minute drive.
Once I returned to the campus and figured out the campus map (I’m very directionally challenged) and found the library, I still had about 45 minutes left to wait. I sat outside by the fountain for a bit and it was quite pleasant. The bells sound on the hour and on the half hour, and even though I was practically sitting under the bell tower, they weren’t all that loud.
The toll of the bells made me realize the time. The library opened at 1:30 p.m., and by 1:31 p.m., there was already a line for registration!
Waiting in line turned out to be something akin to standing behind the velvet rope at a Hollywood awards show … I was there for the arrival of genealogy celebrities such as Thomas W. Jones, Christine Rose, Warren Bittner, Michael Hait, Lloyd Bockstruck (who will be one of my instructors), and DearMYRTLE! Don’t worry … I didn’t cause a scene this time.
After I picked up my course materials (elegantly housed in a fancy little tote bag) and got my dorm key and room assignment, I headed out to the car to drive over to Wesley Hall, the place I will call home for the next 6 days.
The next item on the agenda was dinner and orientation, but that wasn’t until 5 p.m., so I used that time to unpack and get my laptop connected to the internet. I quickly started to regret bringing all the stuff I packed when it came time to lug it all down the stairs to my room … but I’m sure it will be worth it.
Of course, at about 4:00 it started raining. And not just any rain. Big fat heavy rain. And it kept raining. Where was my umbrella? Oh, in the car. In the parking lot. I waited until there was a lull in the downpour and ran out to the car to retrieve said umbrella. I shouldn’t have bothered. By the time I got back inside, I looked like I had gone swimming.
Fortunately, the university has a shuttle that goes around and picks everyone up from the dorms and takes them to the library and cafeteria. So I was able to catch the shuttle and avoid walking in the rain (it’s quite a hike!). When I arrived at the cafeteria, I ran into my friends Linda McCauley and Tonia Kendrick. The place was packed. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but there were several choices of food … burgers and chicken from the grill, pizza, some sort of pasta concoction, and something covered in gravy. It was hard to get a good look at anything because there were so many people. So I got a nice salad from the salad bar and grabbed a burger from the grill (yes, totally unhealthy, but it was grab-n-go, so there wasn’t a line!)
We ate and visited with the other folks at our table until it was time for orientation. They went over the rules (bleh) and acknowledged all the course coordinators, instructors, and other speakers. Lots of big names here.
After orientation, I headed back to the dorm. It had stopped raining, so I walked – to make up for the dinner. I was so exhausted by this time that it was all I could do to stay awake for another couple of hours. I tried to watch a movie on my iPad, but the wifi is pretty wonky and about every 20 minutes I would lose the connection. Fortunately, I remembered to bring a CAT5 cable, so I’m not having that problem on my laptop.
Classes start early, so I’ll need to be well-rested. More tomorrow!Do we share any ancestors?