So in about an hour, it is officially the Autumnal Equinox. Isn’t there something about standing an egg on its tip at that time? Anyway, I love when seasons change. Granted, in Southern California we don’t have seasons the way other parts of the world do, but since I was born and raised in Southern California, these slight seasonal changes are all I know.
Every time the seasons change, 2 things happen to me. One, my allergies start to flare up. I am trying so hard not to let them win this time around, and we’ll see if Claritin can win the fight this time around.
The other thing that happens is that a strange nostalgic feeling washes over me. Now, nostalgia is an interesting sentiment, and an interesting word, but I’ll go into that more in depth in some other post. It’s really something that fascinates me.
So nostalgia struck me again today, as I walked across the campus of Cal State Fullerton. All semester I have vowed to spend longer hours in my office, at least on Wednesdays, so that I wouldn’t take work home with me, and so that I could then attend a yoga class at the gym on campus. So today I stuck to it, and as dusk settled in, I crossed the main quad, passed the library, bookstore, and student union over to the new gym, a warmness rushed over me as I realized just how many times I have crossed through the campus, how many evenings I had spent there, watching the sky grow dim and the lampposts warm to their orange glow. I remembered conversations I had had under the trees next to buildings that once were not there, conversations with classmates whose names I will never remember. Other conversations with people who I will never forget, people who shaped the person that I am today. There is the cafe where my friends and I used to anxiously smoke before classes and discuss the progress (or lack of) papers we were writing. In the library, 4th floor south, I can still find the books of literary criticism on my favorite authors without even having to look up the call numbers; the result of countless hours spent under the fluorescent lighting.
Most alumni experience similar feelings when they return to the campus of their Alma Mater, but I am lucky enough to visit the campus every day. It would be easy to say that I have problems with “moving on,” but the really exciting part for me is that while I haven’t moved on in terms of location, I have moved on in terms of my role on that campus. Now I get to mentor (and cause stress to, Ha!) students who are attending their first ever semester at college, the way that I was 11 years ago. Some of my fondest days were the most stressful time in my life–grad school. Now I also mentor the graduate students who went through the same program that I did, and I get to assure them that they will indeed survive. The strangest part is the interaction with my former professors. Those who once graded me are now my colleagues and friends; a couple of years ago I traveled to Guatemala with one former professor (now my boss), and last weekend I went to the birthday party for another professor-turned-friend. My advisor for my Masters thesis is now one of my close friends, and we regularly text each other about reality tv shows we’re hooked on.
But as I walked across campus, I thought about how interesting it is that the campus has been the one consistent thing throughout my 20’s. I’ve worked many different jobs, lived in different places, had different relationships and different friends, but every Fall the campus has been a part of my life. The very first semester that I was there, I absolutely hated it. I thought it was ugly and nothing like what college seemed like in the movies. But walking through the campus tonight, I realized that it is one of my favorite places.