Sunday, October 15, 2006

Can't Go Back

My five-year reunion took place over the weekend at Augustana. It was a fairly uneventful visit--I saw some professors, walked around campus, and had a beer at Blue Cat. (It still tasted great to me five years and many other beers later--who'd have thought a little pub in the Quad Cities would have such exceptional ale?)

But one thing happened that will never happen again.

I visited Carlsson Hall on Friday. In the lounge I found a plaque with my name on it, honoring me as a four-year resident. (That isn't strictly true--I moved in partway through my freshman year--but I'll take it.) Also pictures taken at picnics in front of the building, many containing hallmates I haven't seen since I graduated. And even a plaque commemorating the many times our floors won the award for the best male GPA on campus.

Carlsson, as I heard later at the president's house, is slated to be gutted next year; when they rebuild the inside it will become the home of many business-oriented departments. The beautiful new residence hall behind Andreen will surely help the school to recruit new students; the kids only have to share a bathroom with four people rather than dozens, and the rooms are huge. (The place also looks like a nursing home to me, but I suppose if the college ever goes under it can always be repurposed.)

And so this weekend was the last time I will ever stroll through the halls of my old home as it was. It makes me a little bit sick to my stomach to think of it, honestly.

But, while I hope the plaques and pictures are preserved and set up somewhere else on campus, being back made me realize that I don't need Carlsson as a vessel for the memories that happened there. This weekend was the first time I set foot on campus in four and a half years, and while it's nice to think that it might be the start of something, the harsh reality is that it may be longer than that before I go back again. It's comforting, somehow, to know that the bathroom where I puked up my 21st birthday drinks hasn't been altered, and that the tile in my senior year room still peels away to reveal the names of the room's residents going back many years. But Augustana gave me all that it could--an education, mentors, friends, and love. It exists for a seventeen-year-old somewhere, who may be just like I was, thinking about his first year away from home and the changes that it might bring. I hope that he decides to go to Augustana, and that it is everything for him that it was for me. And that can happen with or without the chance to live in Carlsson Hall.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wah! No more Carlsson!
It's indeed a tragedy... or progress?