Sunday, October 5, 2008

Different but still the same

As S would say “That’s different.”
C and I spent the weekend at the place where we met: college.
I was excited to be on campus again. It is a small campus, where I felt at home from day one. I especially love it in the fall. The weather was perfect for a weekend exploring the old stomping grounds, but it lacked the colors. Still, it was a beautiful autumn weekend.
We arrived after a three and a half hour drive through country and rolling hills. After seeing the college's infamous landmark, we were greeted by a whole new side of town. New development was all around us. A large supercenter and a large hardware store. New fast food options and shops. Even a new multiplex cinema.
“That’s different,” we said.
As we ventured more into town, we started to see more familiar sights. But still, everything looked different.
We decided to drive through downtown and in to campus. Again, familiar yet different sights greeted us. Campus felt familiar and even the green space surrounded by our residence hall and other halls looked familiar with guys playing volleyball and students walking to and from campus.
Going through another side of town felt a little more familiar but there were signs of updates. The hotel we stayed in, where C worked 14 years ago, was, sadly, exactly the same, according to him.
We enjoyed dinner at an old stomping ground with old and new friends. The student housing reunion itself was OK and we saw only a couple other familiar faces….all in a new, renovated building that was once the Student Center that housed dining options, book store, a bowling alley and the student newspaper office, among other things. We left early to take a walk through campus (yes, late at night, but it was a nice, clear, crisp night for a walk back to our hotel.)
The next day we woke up to sunny skies, perfect for a homecoming parade! We met up with an alum from Neenah who graduated in 1972, the year before C was born! It was fun to talk to him and learn how he once worked at P in Neenah and even lived in Raleigh for a few years!
The parade itself was nice. The homecoming theme was Vegas style so we saw some interesting floats designed by college students.
We enjoyed the rest of the day fully exploring the campus that was once our home: me for 3 years and C for 6. The engineering building, truly C's home, especially late into the night, was in sad shape; definitely showing its age. Thankfully a new building is being constructed.

Our residence hall, even the front desk where we worked, looked exactly the same, except a little gloomier. I’d say it’s from a poor choice in painting treatment but it probably is just the age of the building showing through.

The dining hall is being renovated and now has a convenience center, which is nice because of it’s location to the residence halls.
We walked along a new trail leading to a newer, bigger residence hall, complete with suites. It was huge!
We later hung out in the new student center, which was more modern and comfortable. We rejoined our friends for more reminiscing and catching up and then dined at a popular downtown eatery.

Our last stop on the way out was to the famous land marker, which again, the same but, with the addition of a real stairway, made it different.
It was an enjoyable visit, that’s for sure. Some parts were sad or bittersweet but it was also exciting to see changes and what is to come.

I look forward to visiting again. It was a place that was home to us and where our paths met.

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