The rain first caught us in Northern Florida, along the Panhandle coasts, and followed us as we drove the hours south and East. We arrived in Gainesville, home to our alma mater, Friday afternoon. Still raining when we got there, the roof thrummed with precipitation as we slept through the night in a Cracker Barrel parking lot. Peaceful rain noises, not angry sounds, made for a restful night.
After thirty or so hours, the sun and blue sky graced us just in time to support our planned walking tour of campus. We took the kids from one end to the other, stopping in buildings and bookstores and lecture halls remembered, telling stories of the three years we spent there matriculating.
“One night before finals we studied so late we just decided to sleep on the floor in the lecture room. We propped the door open with soda bottles so we’d not be locked out when we went to meet the bicycle delivery-man with our 3am pizza. We didn’t leave the room until we’d taken the final the next day.”
It was incredibly nostalgic and enjoyable, and really got me thinking… the memories seemed too distant… too faded. I mean what do I really even remember?
Odd things… unimportant but stuck anyway: Listening to The Music Never Stopped while I circled the parking garage hoping to snipe a spot before being late for Physics; playing Turok and eating Stove Top stuffing out of the pot, taking breaks to smoke Newports on the porch; slamming my palm into a mailbox in a fit of possessive jealously; a church trip to Panama City; reading Walden outside the engineering building between classes.
Surely these were some of the golden years, right? So why is it all so fuzzy? Did I not take time to stop and appreciate things? Was I going too fast, or tunnel-visioned on school at the expense of everything else?
Dang; have I ever really appreciated anything? Do I just not stop and think often enough? Am I just bounding from one milemarker to the next and missing everything out the window along the way? Further, then, and maybe boiling it down, precisely when and how am I truly present? Crack that nut, and perhaps I can get there, and stay there, more often.