Sunday, October 9, 2011

Alma Mater

"Are we there yet?" her voice rang through the minivan.
I took another glimpse out the window. The scene looked familiar, as we made the left at the stoplight. Looking down the large hill, the village (really a downtown) laid before us.
It looked the same, yet quickly as we passed, we noticed the differences. New restaurants, stores and outdoor seating peppered the pavement. Familiar sites were there too. The drug store, the Indian restaurant which hosted the Halloween party where I was the farmer and he the cow, the pizza shop that delivered until 3 am, looked the same.
Imagines of that very first day quickly came to mind as the tall metal fence came into view. I could feel my heart skip a beat as we turned into the entrance. Fifteen years ago, I had sat in the back of my parents minivan, my belongings stuffed in all its corners as my anxiety was at a fever pitch.
The first day of college, seemed like lifetimes ago.
We were back.
There it was, the place we called home for four (and a half) years.
College, a place like no other.
An alternate reality, for those lucky enough to partake in all it's splendors.
College; the bridge between childhood and adult responsibility.
College, the place where I feel I found myself (and a husband).
As we pulled into the incredibly tight parking spot, I looked around as did Bry. It looked surprisingly so similar. The dorms stood tall, overlooking the parking lot, as Bry unloaded the double stroller. I watched as a father carried a case of water for his daughter down the path to the dorm. They engaged in some conversation over their respective shoulders. The scene could have been my father and I a few years ago, I thought and then, a shiver overcame my body as I thought that in fifteen years, this scene could be Bry and Moira.
"Is this it? Is this your school?" Mo asked as she climbed into her seat. Her voice regained my attention.
"Yup." I said, "This is Mommy and Daddy's college."
Attaching the straps to Maeve, I attempted to point out our surroundings. As Bry pushed, I began marveling to Moira. Informing her of the dorm that was Bry's home for three years, the library, the cafeteria, but it fell on deaf ears.
"Them got a bouncy?" she asked.
"Don't you want to see some more of Mama's school?" I pleaded.
"No." Her response short and without contrition. "Them got a bouncy? I LOVE bouncies."
And so we headed to the field house for the bounce house and other kid friendly activities.
Meeting up with a few friends over our trip, we all agreed somehow, returning here brought memories to the surface. It felt so similar, it was still the same in many ways, yet it had all changed. It was the same but yet so different.
Kegs and red plastic cups had been replaced with diaper bags and sippy cups. Walking leisurely with arms intertwined across the green now involved strollers and threats of time out.
Perhaps, the school was the same and it really was us that had changed?
Returning to the pool was the reunion I looked forward to the most.
The smell of chlorine hit our faces as we entered.
Arms and legs splashed about as they finished their practice for the day. Moira's eyes were as large as saucers, as the enormity of the natatorium stood in front of her. Diving boards, lane lines, and starting blocks abound.
I found her place of interest.
For me, the pool, this pool was sacred ground.  I had spent the most time during my tenure here, so sharing it was so personal.
The crystal blue water turned calm as the swimmers returned to dry land. A few girls came over. Introducing themselves as two seniors and sophomore, bits of nostalgia floated to the surface. With her little hand in mine, I introduced Mo. Gushing over her cuteness, I quickly offered my warning.
"Enjoy your time, every little moment here," I begged. "It will be over so quickly and you'll be wishing for one more night."
They giggled as they walked away, perhaps making light of my plea to each other, or maybe discussing their plans for the evening or lunch.
It was then I introduced Mo for the first time to my pool.
 We toured the deck, stopping to touch the water in the hot tub for the divers. Looking up, she gasped as I pointed out the 3 meter diving board, and asked to bounce on the 1 meter. She laughed at the pirate face on each starting block, and then told me the numbers as they increased on the digital pace clock. Rounding the corner, she seemed honestly interested and intrigued, and I couldn't have been happier to share my place, my history with her.
Not soon after our pool visit, we attempted a viewing of a production of the Wizard of Oz unsuccessfully and then arrived at the book store minutes after closing time. It seemed a good time to end our return.
We returned home.
Sitting down to dinner that night, Mo looked up to me and asked, "Tell me about your swimming pool, mama." A smile came to my face as I recalled my memories of the pool.
I guess our trip was a success.


  1. what a full post, sharing glimpses of your shared past, and moments of the present. Im glad you were able to make a connection with your daughter and tell her when she wanted to listen later too :)

  2. Love this, Jackie. So full of nostalgia. What fond memories you have and can share with your girls.

  3. So sweet, sharing our pre children lives with them is very special isn't it? You writing , as always, beautiful!


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