I used to walk those paths a million years ago. Lifetimes ago I lived there. I knew the buildings and how to get from one place to another via the most efficient routes. I didn’t get lost. I ran across the quad. I stopped for coffee whenever I could. I smiled hellos and exchanged hugs along the way with people that now I haven’t seen in over a decade. I dreamed dreams because that was a time of dreaming. The whole world felt big and available and my whole life spread before me in a giant blank canvas. Or, at least, that’s how it felt at the time. So big and overwhelmingly white and looking at all of the colors I might paint with made me dizzy. I quickly narrowed down my options while assuring my dream-self that they were still all there. She didn’t want to be confined but I didn’t want to get lost. Such a unique moment it is, when you feel as though you are on the brink of life.
And then I left. I’ve lived no more than a twenty minute drive from the place for the last twelve (oh my goodness it’s been twelve) years. But I didn’t go back. Why would I? There is nothing there but memories. And I keep the memories with me. I don’t need to go looking for them. So I moved forward, and didn’t look back.
Until the day it felt right to take them there. Just for an outing. For something different than the park or the zoo or the typical weekend escapades. It felt right to bring them there, show them this place. Walk with them on those paths, show them the buildings, reminisce about the dreams and the memories in their presence. Because one of the things I offer them is the connection to me and to my past. Because they love to hear stories about when I was small, a kid just like them, or, as it goes, not at all like them. They love to know more. And I love to tell them. They’ve seen the place where I spent my childhood. It made sense to show them where I grew up.
So we walked around and it felt so strange. Like walking into a vaguely familiar world, one with memories around every corner but, also, one that had changed so drastically that no one moment felt quite tangible enough for me to lay a finger on. I didn’t remember the paths or the buildings. The places I had stopped for coffee were no longer there. It shouldn’t have surprised me. The millions upon millions of ways I’ve changed since those days are staggering. I couldn’t expect this one place to stay the same. Everything changes. And it’s ok. Good even.
So we wandered and got lost and wandered some more. I let them run across the grass, remembering the morning I stretched a blanket there to study with a friend. I gazed at the steps where we waited for class to start. The railing we slid down in caps and gowns on the day we worked so hard to reach.
And I tried to take it all in. Seeing them in that space, where a much younger me hadn’t even dared to dream of them. I couldn’t have known that this is how I’d come back and who I’d bring with me. And if I had known, if someone had somehow shown me this future moment in a glimpse of a dream, I’m not sure I would have been extraordinarily happy. This isn’t the place I believed I was headed when I walked off those grounds for the last time. I thought, in those young, naive, innocent days, that my life would play out differently.
But life is wild that way, isn’t it?
linking up with Lisa.