I spent some time at my old school yesterday afternoon. So much has changed—the tennis courts are now a lecture hall in front of which wedding photos are taken, the soccer field with a dirt track around it where I used to run at night while listening to my Walkman (yes, my Walkman) is another lecture hall that hosts fancy receptions—and yet much has not.
Despite the gaps being filled in with proud edifices made possible through the contributions of people like me, reminders of the place I knew remain strong. There's no money in liberal arts, so the library and classrooms I inhabited are largely unchanged. The names have mostly changed, but a few of the minds I studied under are still there.
Walking through the halls, trying to remember which class I had where, sparked additional memories. There was the first place I ever voted in a presidential election (my guy lost, as he or she always does), there was the first place I ever spent the night in a girl's room (she was an RA, no less), there was where I used to play piano at odd hours.
Is this what being a ghost feels like? Some people say that ghosts haunt places because they are unable to move on to some other place, but maybe they just like to visit once in a while, to be reminded of how things once were before returning to the here and now. Visiting a place is different than dwelling there.
It's not just my old school that has changed. I've changed. The world has changed—for better and for worse. Things we worried about back then seem quaint now. Things we worry about now would have seemed impossible back then. We keep going. I wonder what ever became of my Walkman.