Like Zack is doing now, the other week, I took a mini-vacation. For me, it was back to my alma mater, Ithaca College, with my best friend from those days, Spunky. It had been over 4 years since I had seen her at my wedding, and since then we’ve been busy with our own lives and adventures, far from the constant company we once kept.
Spunky and I met through the Anime Society of Ithaca College (ASIC for short). I made a lot of my college friends at college through that group, many of whom I’m still in contact with today. What admittedly started as a crush became something more, a tight bond and friendship that lasted through adventures like that time I was the president of a fraternity (a blog for another time), or the incident that ended with me on crutches (again, for another blog), or after college, when I celebrated learning I did not have cancer (another blog) by visiting her in Japan for 10 days (Jesus, how many blogs am I going to allude to here?). That last one was an experience unlike any other, but it was also right before the start of me and Jena becoming a serious couple, so it feels like a literal lifetime ago.
Since our last big adventure together, I have gotten married, lived in LA, moved back to NY, and had a bevy of experience in between, not least of which has been Unlife. When I finally saw Spunky again last weekend, she too had lived her own lifetime since. A new love, a new profession, a new dog, a new art career, a new home, a new town, hell, a new hairstyle. A blink, and then a life lived without each other, though still as comfortably close as years past.
And the same can be said of Ithaca College. Visiting, we saw familiar buildings and walked the paths we had before, but the college itself had changed too. New buildings, new programs, new professors, overlaid with that memory of what it once was to both of us. Even venturing into the Commons and College Town contained a similar experience of ghostly familiarity, and for the first time, I felt I was the presence that didn’t belong anymore. In a sense, I was the memory. And the whole experience was bitter sweet, because it was still the same college, and yet, no longer my college.
And in a way, the same goes for my old friendship. We’re still close friends, and I love her to death. But that time we had together, all those great memories, are part of a life already lived. I hope we have at least one or eighteen million more adventures in us before the end. But they’ll be different. We aren’t the kids we were anymore.
I could say it’s bittersweet. But that would be selling the sweetness short. You may have noticed that I sometimes can only focus on the bad and negative stuff (Nooooooooooo! Whaaaaaaaaaa – ? Get out! Really?), but I can’t tell you how freeing and relieving it is to have a memory to dwell on that’s not just good, but great. It’s been a lifetime, and when I got to soak in being with Spunky and walking through our old life, I got to reminisce about something that wasn’t just good, but one of the highlights of my life. It may have changed, but I’ll always carry it with me. And I’m happy I had that and got to relive it, even for just another fleeting second.
Just because something is gone doesn’t mean it doesn’t stay with you forever.
PS: While in Ithaca, I also revisited one other place. Buttermilk Falls. Ithaca’s famous gorges. Or, as Unlife readers may know it, the scene of the crime.
But that too is a blog post for another time, I think.