Every day on the way to the law school I walk past the epicenter of undergraduate campus life – the southeast-area dorms – where the majority of the 18 and 19-year-olds live. It’s crazy to be 10 years older than them, yet relating to the disorientation that comes with starting school.
I turn the corner and walk adjacent to the mass communication building, where as an undergraduate I spent countless hours writing, editing and collaborating with other students to produce a daily student newspaper. One of these days I’ll peek inside the office as I have occasionally since graduation. I’ll check to see if the dollar bill my predecessor pinned to the bulletin board next to the opinion desk is still there, reveling in a nostalgic moment.
I have learned that while many methods of communicating with students on campus have changed (registering your cell phone number with the university so they can text you in case of an emergency?!), others are exactly the same. Colored chalk on sidewalks still announces the kick-offs of religious organizations, student government and visiting speakers.
Surprisingly diverse cuisines are still offered at an array of food carts along the main campus mall. I can say with certainty that a few of them have been in business at least ten years now.
Today I ran into an old school mate at the law school. “Old” meaning I-knew-you-when-you-were-four old. I’m pretty sure we were in pre-school together. If not, we definitely went on parallel paths from kindergarten through undergrad. We were only acquaintances growing up, but how strange is it to run into someone from the same upper-middle class, conservative, suburban neighborhood at a meeting of a liberal, human-rights oriented lawyers organization ten years later, in 2008.
Places have always impacted me. I’m 29 and a student again, in the same, but also a very different version of the place I spent my formative 18-22 years. It’s strange and wonderful. This town has a different meaning to me now, but it’s still a beautiful place. My life was so different last time I lived here. I saw the world differently. I had some different friends and very different goals. Different things seemed important and unpleasant.
It’s all strange and good and challenging. It’s all just progress, I suppose.