I am in SLC, fresh from EUG, heading to MSP and ultimately FSD.
Yes, I’m traveling. Alone, this time. No kids to keep an eye on, no dollies in tow, no Dora-the-Explorer suitcase trundling along behind my curly-headed child, stuffed with drawing paper and pencils and toys and snacks and used Kleenex.
It’s quite nice to be alone.
It’s also a little bit lonely.
I’ve been in Eugene, Oregon for a friend’s wedding. The wedding was lovely – outdoors, not too big, not too long, delicious cake. My friend and her smiling husband drove away in a 1947 (or was it ’48?!) fire engine and it was cute, quaint, and perfect.
But Eugene held more than my dear friend’s wedding – it held family, friends, and innumerable memories.
It was 20 years ago exactly that I graduated from the University of Oregon. I’d been back to Eugene once, five years ago, but that was just for 36 hours and I was too distracted to spend much time on campus. This time I was able to walk around leisurely, gaze at the new buildings and old, and enjoy the atmosphere. I didn’t feel 18 again – no, the gray in my hair doesn’t allow for that fantasy – but I enjoyed myself immensely…perhaps BECAUSE I didn’t have to rush back to my dorm room and cram for a final exam.
There’s nothing like a reunion – with old places or old friends or family. I was able to see many family members who graciously drove down from Washington to see me, and I met my new great-niece. She is, of course, adorable. I also saw my Eugene relatives and I had the privilege of staying with my aunt, which felt like coming home as I spent a lot of time with them over my college years. I think that I spent every single weekend at her house for at least the first 6 weeks of my freshman year. Mom and Dad were still in Germany, so my aunt’s home was a gift for a homesick kid.
I also saw many college friends – some of whom I hadn’t seen in two decades – and was reminded of their quirks, their ways of speaking, their wonderful laughs. We sat outside at a restaurant along the Willamette River watching ospreys, river rafters and each other. I am so glad to know these people.
Now I have to return to reality. To dirty clothes and dirty dishes. To unread piles of mail and a garden that has yet to be planted. To irritable kids and sticky kisses.
I’m ready to be back. Bring it on.