Maybe it's because I've been listening to memoirs. Maybe it's because I'm part of a group of women who are working on sharing our stories in a variety of ways. Or maybe I was just in the right mood. But suddenly the memories, many of them happy, came flooding back.
It's been on my to-do list for a few years to take my kids and husband to visit my alma mater, Marywood University. I hadn't been back to campus in over a dozen years and wanted to see all the improvements and visit my favorite spaces. As I pondered our weekend plans (we had none) on Friday morning, it occurred to me it might be a good time to take a trip to Scranton. I messaged the university to determine whether any buildings would even be open on a summer Saturday, and a reply came to let me know the next day was actually freshman orientation, which meant the campus would be buzzing. Perfect!
The next morning I awoke at 4:00. While I usually have no trouble getting back to sleep, I remained awake as college memories flooded back to me. Happy memories. Sad memories. Strangely specific memories. Memories I hadn't thought about in years. This feeling of nostalgia washed over me and it was all I could do keep myself from waking up everyone and starting the trip several hours early.
When we finally set out at a respectable hour, I told the kids stories of my first visits to and days on campus. We stopped at the turnpike stop where my car once broke down. We ate at the Burger King where my parents and I stopped for a lot of meals back in the day. We all stood in awe of the rotunda I always loved. I smiled to see that some of the classrooms in the Liberal Arts Center seemed to look the same as they did when I attended classes there 20-some years ago.
Yet some areas were completely different. I was happy to see so much more diversity than I had ever seen when I was on campus. We marveled at the robotic arm in the library. I didn't recognize several of the buildings and was surprised to learn that now only the top floor of my first dorm is in use.
I don't have experience a sense of nostalgia very often. My parents live in the house I grew up in (we moved there the summer before my second grade year). I drive by my high school every day on the way to work. But taking a trip back to a particularly happy time of my history was such a special experience. And so was creating new memories in that place.
You may find some places in your story with the same sense of history and possibility.
Photo by Mike Myers