This time I took a trip by myself - with no one to reminisce with - just Chuck as my #1 companion. Always ready for a road trip.
I am going backwards in my life and visiting places where I have lived. So this weekend I went to the places of my young adulthood - and visited my colleges. I went to Hanover College for three years and met Chris Connor. We married after his second and my third year of college and transferred to University of Cincinati where I received a BA in English and he earned a marketing degree.
Hanover College is, I believe, the most beautiful college campus in America. It is on a bluff overlooking the Ohio River and it is absolutely picturesque. As I walked around this weekend I had a flood of wonderful memories - of life in the dorms, fraternity and sorority dances, playing field hockey, drinking coffee with friends. More of my memories were about campus life - than studying - but that is who I was during those years. Looking back, I also realize how important it was for me to find a small place where I could fit in and feel like I belonged. My senior year of high school we moved from PA to Michigan and it was a hard time for me of feeling lonely and alienated. So, these three years at Hanover were restorative. One of the thoughts I had was of gratitude to my parents for the gift of being able to go to college at all - let alone this place.
In Cincinnati, I found myself thinking about the first years of marriage and how difficult it was to be away from the friends and support of Hanover - but also how good it was in forming that bond between a husband and wife in the beginning. Chris and I "owned" a capital dry cleaning franchise for a year as he finished up his last year of college. That building is gone now - but I could see where it was. And for me, I learned that hardship of owning your own business. That dream was one I have never had again. I remembered our struggles with his parents in asserting our identity and now at my age I am grateful for their forbearance with us - two young people who thought we knew more than we did.
These were important years in my life. This was the beginning of adulthood as "home" became a room in a dormitory rather than my parent's house. I met the man who is the father of my daughters and my husband for 15 years. He may be my "ex husband" but also my first love and it was good to honor that memory and relationship. I also made a friend - Susan - who has been a touchstone and keeper of my secrets through the many years and moves since.
Alot has changed in the 40 years since I was a student and a young wife. There are new buildings on campus, there are places that have been razed and of course, that first marriage - though a good one for a long time - is over.
But looking back is so helpful - to see the many blessings of my life and the ways in which grace has been at work.
I look forward to the final memory trip - to West Chester Pa with my brothers as we go all the way back to our childhood together.