Our trip to Athens this past weekend was, as it always is, especially in October, bittersweet. We took all the cousins to a homecoming party on north campus. The food was good and plenty, the town’s top caterer was in his usual form. My favorite local band played Motown music. The children danced and joined in on the instruments. I felt suspended in time as I sat on the steps of Brooks Hall.
Afterwards, we had to walk back to our car, now parked at the other end of campus. The guys let us all out behind Brooks before the party. They left us at the party to go on to the game. Laura and I have long had our fill of games, especially with children who get bored about 10 minutes into them. So, we volunteered to walk the kiddos back to the car. I volunteered, because I love that walk home, well, back to south campus, my home for so many blissful years.
As we started south, a bright breeze blew all but the blue from the sky. The sun shone warm and golden. The trees paraded their fall garments. We descended steps that I had helped to wear away. We crossed the long bridge that now spans the creek and valley which cradle the stadium. Then we climbed the rocky stair paths to the “sciences” and everything south.
As we made the rise, giant Magnolia and Ginko flanked our path. The girls asked about the old ladies’s ages. I betrayed no confidence, but assured them they had appeared not long after the Yankees. We bent low under grandfather Deodor Cedars which don’t even drop cones until they are seventy-five. As I crossed tracts of grass that my feet know awake, asleep or during darkness, my heart ballooned at the site of each of these old friends, in so many ways just the same.
Soon, we came to what is not the same. That fool coliseum which they pour unlimited dollars into fancying – though not enlarging. It looks to be growing flashier yet, lots of new glass. Too bad our team is still no better. We walked to a parking deck on the site where I used to pet the ponies when the rodeo came.
Everything is not the same. Much is different, some of it better. But it is, in every way, home.