Thursday, May 12, 2016

Memory lane

Things change and stay the same.

This past weekend I visited Ann Arbor for the first time in three and a half years. The last visit there involved a car ride from Chicago to see Michigan take on Michigan State in 2012. Michigan won, 12-10, its first defeat of the Spartans since 2007, my first year at Michigan. All I remember about that 2012 game -- a largely forgettable one if it weren't for the teams involved -- is field goals and a defense that held.

Of course, things have changed a lot since then. Things have changed a lot in Ann Arbor, generally, since I graduated.

I returned this past weekend to find a Walgreens where Book and Supply once stood. Like Shaman Drum -- or as my mind remembers it, the Hottest Place on Earth -- Book and Supply is a place that now only exists in the pages of my memory. That, and an old wallet, which I lost a while back ... and with it, somehow, my old Book and Supply card.

A pizza place now sits at that corner of State and Packard, across from Bell's, a location with more turnover than the Michigan offense in 2008 at Notre Dame, a spot that that has seen Packard Pub, then R.U.B. BBQ Pub, and, now, Happy's Pizza come through.

Middle Earth, a store I walked by probably hundreds of time, closed its doors.

Blimpy Burger is no longer in the endearingly low-key spot it was before on Division -- I've yet to frequent the new spot. I hope they're still rude.

Ocker Field on State Street has gotten quite the makeover; an Astroturf sea of blue, calm southern Ann Arbor waters.

Also, this, which I hadn't seen in person until Saturday, on a morning run around town.

Bo, headset in hand, in front of the building bearing his name.

Some things remain the same, of course. I can report that Angelo's is still, in fact, tremendous.

The theater stands, playing "Good Burger" and all. 

The carillon of the Burton Tower still provides the soundtrack for a stroll in front of the Hill Auditorium steps, the MLB (in which I spent a good deal of time), the Ingalls Mall fountain, North Quad (That's another new thing I forgot to mention earlier ... in my day it was South, West and East. South and West had snowball wars, and East was just the place I stayed during orientation.)

Moving about town rekindled memories of all sorts of things, both forgotten minutiae and bigger moments stripped of specificity with the passage of time. It was a reminder of why I decided to spend four years of my life there and why I think about it all the time. For the first time, maybe, "I Want to Go Back to Michigan" didn't seem so hokey to me. 

It was a quiet weekend, with everyone seemingly out of town -- either home for the summer or off, somewhere, celebrating Mother's Day. With everyone gone, all that remained was the campus. In a way, it was almost as if it were orchestrated just for me, a setting to quietly reintroduce myself to Ann Arbor, without distractions, a personal face-to-face. 


Rather than continuing straight down State Street, my run took me down Hoover, toward the place that dominated much of my time and thought over those four years, a centerpiece to the experience of it all. 

It had been a while. The football season after I graduated, I made it to the Notre Dame, San Diego State and Nebraska games. The next year, just the Michigan State game.

Unfortunately, life and work took hold, and I haven't been since. I will admit, however, that malaise had a hand in it (if I really wanted to go to a game, especially in 2013 and 2014, I probably could have). 

Now, though, after the 2015 that was, I started looking at the 2016 schedule before the Florida game even ended. I don't know which game will be my next, but I know I'll go to at least one. 

And for the first time in several years, it won't feel like an obligation. Instead, I'll jump into my Ann Arbor past for a chance to peek at the future in progress. 

1 comment:

  1. Your writing intimated in me that spirit, that nostalgia, that makes Ann Arbor so special. I know exactly how you feel.