While on our road trip in October, The Cajun and I happened to be driving within 25 miles of the place we went to college*, so we felt obligated to stop (we also hadn't been back since our 10th reunion, which I regret to say was quite a while ago). Driving up to Teensyville from the interstate was odd; the approach to town has changed almost not at all, although campus and downtown have both seen some major changes. Some, like the major renovations to the union building and the science/math center, I'd already seen and accepted, but this trip was the first time that either of us had seen the renovations (also major) of the Performing Arts Center, which was the building where we both spent the VAST majority of our time (the rest was spent in the aforementioned science/math building).
|This beautiful atrium used to be a pond. With fish.|
And the renovations to the PAC were a shock. The pond in front is gone, replaced by a brick and glass atrium containing a sparkling new music library (an excellent thing if ever there was one**) and the entrances to both the drama theatre and the concert hall. The interiors of these two are exactly the same as they were (mumblety) years ago, so there was a very odd dissonance when walking through the doors from a completely new, unfamiliar space, to the very familiar sights and smells of (mumblety) years ago. The worst shock, though, is that the part of the building that housed the School of Music - the offices, the classrooms, the library, and, most importantly, the practice rooms - is GONE. What was once a completely enclosed courtyard is now open to Locust St. and the old wing of the building has been removed, with all of its accompanying memories hanging in empty space like so many ghosts***.
|That empty green space at the front is where I spent 4 years of my life.|
The new space is beautiful and appropriate and I sincerely envy the students and faculty who get to use it, but it has nothing to do with me anymore. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Those memories are really in me and my husband and my friends, and not hovering in that empty space across the street from the Center for Contemporary Media, but it still makes me a bit melancholy.
Oddly, when I visit Large State University****, the inevitable changes don't bother me, even things like the new Creamery (an important part of my life since I was 6) or the renovation of the library's first floor into the spectacular new Knowledge Commons†. Perhaps it's because, although I've spent much time there, it was always in 2-5 day segments††. Or perhaps it's because so many of my memories there are professional ones, and while still very dear to me, not as emotionally intense.
|These are ducks in the Alumni Gardens. Very Friendly Ducks. Obviously.|
Regardless, the knowledge that the campus continues to change without us, and, worst of all, that I have become one of those alums who wander around saying, "Well, back in MY day..." makes me feel elderly and creaky. But I do seriously envy current Fab U. students those new practice rooms. They are AMAZING.
*Which, for the purposes of this story and some anonymity, shall be referred to as Fabulous University, in Teensyville, IN. Those who know it should find these pseudonyms apt enough.
** This change makes me insanely happy for current students, though it does ruin my ambition of someday, when we win the lottery and become insanely wealthy, donating a new music library to Fabulous University. Alas.
*** It's where I met my husband, for crissake.
**** Where I was employed for nearly 8 years, and where The Cajun went to graduate school.
† Though if they ever take out my perch on the 5th floor overlooking the street, I will be inconsolable. That is one of my favorite reading spots in all the world.
|Not exciting, perhaps, but still one of my very favorite views.|
†† I actually spent my entire employment at a branch campus, but visited the Mothership regularly for meetings and to visit The Cajun during his stint there.