Saturday, October 3, 2009

You Can't Go Home Again

Just got back from my marathon trip to the writers' conference in Lewisburg. Non-morning person that I am, I managed to get up and get ready to leave the house by 6:45 AM, and to survive using one of the most disgusting bathrooms in Central PA (not at the conference -0n the road), as well as managing to find some time to visit downtown Lewisburg and the Bucknell campus.

It was foggy this morning when I left, and tonight, that seems an apt metaphor. Things in Lewisburg were just not the way I remembered them. Not at the conference, not on campus and not downtown. I don't know if memory drops a convenient fog over things, making them seem better, or whether you really just can't go home again.

Don't get me wrong, Lewisburg is still a great little town, but today, I was profoundly aware of how much things had changed, and how many things (myself included) were showing their age. Familiar stores were gone, familiar buildings looked tired and unfamiliar students looked...young.

A shiny new Bucknell bookstore will grace the corner of Fourth and Market Streets sometime soon, but that new construction gave me the same feeling I have when I watch Meg Ryan close the doors to her Shop Around the Corner for the last time in You've Got Mail. Maybe because the on-campus bookstore was my place of employment from February of freshman year until the May before I received my master's degree. Maybe it's because just a few doors down, the sporting goods store that had been a fixture in Lewisburg since before I was a student was holding a liquidation sale. Maybe it's because I believe a campus bookstore belongs on campus.

Change is good, but loss is sad. New stores gracing Market Street and keeping the downtown vital is a good thing, because without them, the downtown will lose its vitality. But old stores closing, old traditions folding...maybe I'm showing my age, but to me, that's sad.

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