Somewhere exists a picture of 18 year-old me standing in front of dorms waving goodbye. I don’t look frightened or aspiring, just goofy. It was a long time ago. Last week I went back.
Memories came rushing back as I passed fraternity row and the rugby field. It was only eight o’clock but the campus was deserted. I parked outside the University Inn, got out of the car, and realized why. It was minus fifteen.
My grey haired cousin invited me to breakfast. I was promised eggs, bacon, hash browns and pancakes and given an address. He called the place the “tractor store”, a name any place in Brooklyn would envy. I arrived at an actual tractor dealership wearing a jacket and tie. A crowd of Carhart bearded fellows reminded me of what every hipster is trying to be, but there was little to no irony in this room; nor was the Sartorialist lurking with a camera. But I was.
After sitting and listening to a conversation consisting of a mix between hay bails and the outmoded educational structure of over sized public schools that don’t keep pace with technology, and also after my cousin was asked why he brought along his lawyer, I headed back up to campus.
The Sigma Nu house was still there but the Greek letters on the outside were different, something about alcohol poisoning.
The temperature had now climbed all the way up to ten and students started to appear. Some in t shirts and even more wearing shorts. I saw the computer lab where I first learned how to send an email, c://sign-command.login blah blah blah on a black screen with a green cursor. I passed my old apartment, the one with the ugly orange door and the angry roommate with the orange hair. I passed young students who startled me by by saying “hello” despite our never having met.
While presenting to a group of bio chem undergrads I was thinking about how we used to snowboard the back country instead of going to class. I don’t think the kids I was talking to ever do that. In fact, I’m pretty sure all of these kids were wearing shoes in the snow and only ever walked up hill to school one way. Kids these days.