Sunday, February 04, 2007

What's nostalgia without a little nausea?

Just back from a weekend spent with Babe, my college roommate--a visit that necessitated my driving farther than I've ever done before (but to put that in context: prior to this, the farthest I'd ever driven by myself was about 90 miles). Other than the distance and the fact that a snowstorm blew in on Friday just as darkness fell and I was still some 100 miles away, it was actually a very easy, undemanding drive, and seeing Babe was a treat. We gabbed at length, played with her freakishly intelligent dog, and spent Saturday in Alma Mater City visiting museums, shopping, and eating extraordinarily well. And with two glasses of sangria apiece over dinner and then two bottles of Cava back at her place--well, you'd be forgiven for thinking that we were, in fact, still in college.

It's funny how I'm consumed by two equally strong but entirely opposed sentiments every time I'm in AMC: first, a wave of love for the city itself, the campus, and all those happy golden bygone whatevers. But at the same time, I feel a claustrophobia verging on revulsion: I see the 20- and 30-somethings with their chic black glasses, beat up sneakers, and complicated hairstyles, and even though they're my people, I still hate them. It's hard to believe that I was so deeply unhappy in a place that I genuinely adore--and even my relief at no longer being there (and by "being there" I mean, "being a grad student") isn't enough to prevent me from hating every satchel-toting passerby.

Maybe in a few years that relationship will resolve itself. And if it never does, at least I still have Babe--whom I've known since my very first day in that city, and for whom my love is much less complicated.


muse said...

Dear Flavia, you said this SO WELL. That is exactly what goes through my head when people as me if I miss my Great Grad School City. And that is exactly why I'm avoiding every conference there for the next few years.

prefer not to say said...

Yes, that was an astonishingly good description of how I feel about the old haunts of my academic career. I always describe it as visiting an ex-boyfriend's house after he's already married someone else. But even that doesn't really sum up all the intense contradictory emotions.