Have you ever gone back and visited a place that was a huge part of your life, but you had forgotten a lot about it until you found yourself walking the very paths of that same place?
Last week I took my kids to a ‘learn all about the salmon life cycle’ science class at my old university. I hadn’t driven back onto campus in years and boy did it feel strange. Distant, but so familiar.
The first time I went to that university, I remember sitting in the back of a suburban with my sisters and my friend, while we waited for our big brothers to finish touring the place with our parents.
The idea that ‘maybe one day he would go there,’ turned into all four of us kids went there and it was a place I loved, and still do.
I clearly remember being a kid at that place.
I also clearly remember being an awkward 18 year old at that place.
I remember becoming a wife over the three day reading break during my third year, at that place.
I had even spent several summers working on the landscaping team weeding, planting, watering and digging.
I remember the friends I made and had, and the memories that were created and triggered again just by walking those same paths between all of the buildings.
And then I saw it. That swirling evergreen tree in the middle of that display right there. Do you see my youngest son running right in front of it?
I planted that very tree one summer with the help of my co-worker, probably about 12 years ago. I didn’t even remember I had done it until I saw it again, and then it all rushed back to me.
“I think this will be a nice touch, I want you to put this tree here.” My boss had said. The two of us worked hard at getting that spindly tree out of the bucket and into the ground.
It’s grown taller and wider and filled out over those 12 years there. So many people have walked past it, busy making their own memories.
“Hey! Mommy planted that tree right there! Isn’t that crazy?”
“Yup. Good job mom, can I have a snack?”
Turns out, it’s usually only the memory maker who’s nostalgic, but it’s another memory all on its own for me to get to take my own kids to places like this.
I remember my parents doing that with me, and seeing how important it was for them to show me places that held history for them.
I get it now. It’s fun to see your little fingerprint left behind here and there. And it’s fun to show that little fingerprint to the little people in your life who currently leave their fingerprints all over the place.