Today I accompanied my 8th grade students on a field trip to Colorado State University - my alma mater. I can't explain how strange it is to type those words - I mean, if someone had asked me ten years ago what I thought I might be doing in 2009, it most certainly would not have involved students, CSU, or the inevitable feelings of nostalgia that swarmed my mind today.
I've been back to CSU several times in the last decade, even just this past summer with a sorority sister - a typical trip down memory lane. Things have changed - buildings have new colors and faces, creative sculptures exist where they never did before. There's a transit system right off of the Lory Student Center, which would have been awesome when I was a student. The west side of campus is torn to pieces with construction, and there is a new residence life community that features a bathroom in every room. The building where I took ballet is now a welcome center; and while the LSC food court still houses "That's a Wrap," the wraps really don't quite taste like they used to.
But more is the same than different. The Clark building is as ugly (even painted red) and as overcrowded as usual. The Oval is as stunning as it ever was - even with trees in muted browns and yellows after this year's early frost. Man, to see the Oval in the height of golden fall can take your breath away. The LSC is still a hub of activity - with chalked sidewalks and students hurrying through. The view from the LSC food court - through a curved wall of windows - is still as amazing as it always was. I used to gaze out at the mountains through those windows, eating my wrap, just being a college kid.
I also used to gather on the steps of the Clark building and socialize with Greek friends, and it was inside of Clark, just past the northeast doors, that I once told a boy who broke my heart that he "had my world dangling from a string." I wonder where he is now? I used to study in a grove of trees just across from the plant science building...those trees are still there. I passed through the Oval quite a bit my junior year, when I spent most of my time at a certain fraternity house on the east side of campus. Speaking of the Oval, on graduation night, I streaked across it with three sorority sisters - too bad not a soul was there to see us. And I walked across that enormous expanse of grass to my Durward hall dorm room or G-Phi house, wind in my face, sun in my eyes...just like all of the kids I saw crossing campus in the very same way today.
Oh, to go back. I want to go back...to be 20 and long-haired and full of endless potential. I'd do it all again - even the homesickness of freshman year, the heartache, the poor choices, the wasted tears. To drink beer and listen to DMB on the jukebox at Sully's after the game, to ditch class on a sunny day for Estes, to drive to Horsetooth with Tina and "diet Coke, smokes, and bakery stix," to jog down Shields singing dumb sorority rush songs, to work a Saturday afternoon at GoJo sports, to rake leaves in the yard of the Plum street house, to turn the mind's tapes back and see everyone in the same place, same time...
Oh, if only.
photo circa 1997 >>