I don’t know any of the professors anymore. And there are new buildings popping up all over campus. And there’s a new fountain by the circle, and the big main fountain has had a huge overhaul.
A couple of weeks ago I was in Albany, NY to hang out with my college girlfriends, Amy and Dianne With Two N’s (they gave me permission to use their names). We’ve been going up to Albany ever since we were graduated in the stone age. OK, 1984, but it was before the internet and cell phones, so…
I had stayed in Albany for a while to go to graduate school, and Amy and Dianne started coming up to visit. And then when I left, they kept going up, and eventually, I could afford to join them. And often a few other girlfriends have joined us over the years – but it started out as we three.
We three lived together since our freshman year in college. We didn’t know each other before we were randomly selected to live in a suite together, but we’ve been friends now for more than 35 years. And some things are the same, but many things have changed.
As I walked around the campus by myself, waiting for my friends to arrive, I was considering how much had changed in the last 32 years (quite a lot). I don’t love all the changes, but I think most of them are for the better. But the thing is, this isn’t the University of the Mitey Widow. It’s not about me. By the time we had gotten there, many things had changed since the University was founded in 1854. Things change. And then I considered how we had changed, too.
When we first started our Albany weekends, we were young and single. Amy and Dianne stayed on friends’ sofas. There were things we ALWAYS did. We always ate at Sutter’s. We always had breakfast at Denny’s.
Eventually we all got married. We had children. We paid money to stay in hotels. But we were still going to Sutter’s and Denny’s and walking around the campus, and going to the campus bookstore. We’d sit around the fountain and talk about our husbands and our children.
One day, one of our friends suggested that perhaps we might eat someplace other than Denny’s. So we started going out for a nicer breakfast on Saturday.
Twenty years ago, we used to spend a lot more time around the campus. Maybe it was more important to us then. We were still closer to our time in school, and our children were very young (those of us who had children 20 years ago!). We were full-fledged adults, to be sure, but we were still young adults. Perhaps we were reassuring ourselves that this anchor was still here to hold on to if we needed it.
In more recent years, we’ve used Albany as a base, but we’ve done more adventurous things like kayaking and hiking. We’ve even gone into Massachusetts a couple of times to visit different museums (this year we went to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art -well worth the visit).
We were young and single when we started doing this. We’ve all been married – I’m now widowed. Our children are no longer little. Some of our children are already out of college themselves – some will be headed there in a few years.
The University’s changed. We’ve changed. Our lives have changed. We remain friends, and we’ve learned to appreciate the different ways that we’ve grown. How sad it would have been if we had tried to hold onto everything just as it was. Oh – yes – we always drive by our old off-campus apartment. We always do a little bit of the nostalgia tour. But we’re not mourning the past – just appreciating it while we also hold a curiosity about the future. It’s one of the things I love about getting together with my old roommies.
I don’t know for sure what we’ll do next year. I expect that Dianne-With-Two-N’s will research some great restaurants and things to do – and then we’ll choose. Maybe we’ll go kayaking. We’ll probably go to some of the usual haunts, and probably some new places, too. We’ll keep changing, but we’ll keep having each other. And that’s the thing that really matters.
That’s my mite. It’s all I’ve got.