You Can Never Go Back

It's true.

When we went back to Sarasota for the New College 50th Anniversary in 2011, I felt this. I didn't just feel it. I was staggered by it.

Funny, most of the people I was so excited to see again were people I've seen since leaving Florida anyways. And there were a surprising number of people I saw that, when confronted with their face, I realized I could have happily never seen them again. So many people that I saw through the crowds and thought, "Good lord, I forgot about YOU" with varying degrees of joy and horror. And then there were the strangers I saw chatting with "my friends" who turned out to be people I knew quite well once upon a time. Shock upon shock upon shock. As a group, we speculated about motivations... for people who made the trip to come back and for people who stayed away, as well as those who never left.

The campus was so familiar and so different all at once. Keeping in mind, this was the first time I've been back to campus since leaving Florida in 1998. Ham Center, Pei dorms and the Library bridge were all competing against newly blocked roadways, new science buildings and new dorms where once there was open green space. Drinks could still be had at the Bahi Hut, though surrounded by a very different sort of clientele than I remember from back in the day. It was actually more than a little painful to see.

Being in such familiar places and wandering among so many unfamiliar faces, brought back some of my less pleasant memories from those years and I was surprised by them. I don't know why. I suppose we do that though, don't we? We remember the good stuff and sweep the bad things under the proverbial carpet. We remember things "better" than they ever were to begin with. College was fun and I made my very best friends there, friends that to this day mean more to me than I can express. But looking back, I can see that I spent too much of that era suffocating under the weight of my own insecurities.

I can't really say whether or not I'm glad we went. I almost wish we had simply arranged our own gathering of friends somewhere that wasn't New College. I'm not sure if I will attend another reunion. Because you really can't ever go back.

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