I recently had the opportunity to return to my old "home," well, at least the one I had in the late summer of 1995 through summer 1996 on East Avenue. The building still looks good, and it appears the inside has had a major uplift in decor, at least from the look inside the front doors. The many restaurants around the ground floor are also new, and a welcome revitalization around the area where I had the opportunity to study back in college.
Returning to Rochester was difficult for me. This fall will mark by 20-year anniversary since graduating from the university, which I spent at both the River Campus and the Eastman School. In a particularly introspective study of my own self (who am I?, how do I think? why do I think the ways I do? what do I want to do with the rest of my life, etc.) I often return to these cliched formative years and wonder how, or who, or when I picked up certain traits. In general, I greatly enjoyed my college experience, but I also wished I had taken far more risks and tried more thant I had: made more friends, worried less about grades, and taken even more out-landish courses.
One of the things that has stuck with me especially is the university's Latin motto, Meliora. Again, I know it sounds cliche, but I really took this motto to heart, ever adopting it as my own creed.
On this day, there were few people around downtown, and there were even fewer on the River Campus. Some things had changed (like the size of the trees on Gibbs Street) and some things had not (the look of the Eastman dorms, or the facade of the Rush Rhees library), but especially spooky to me was the recall of the faces of portraits hanging inside Eastman, of past presidents and remarkable past professors and pedagogues, still hanging in their same spots. I hadn't thought of these images in those twenty years, but there they still hang, ever familiar as I gazed upon them again.
It reminded me of the timelessness that came for the ride with the Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter series.
Rochester was never a weather-friendly place; it was often cold and almost always cloudy. But my emotions aside, it appears the university still is contributing significantly to the city's charm. I enjoyed my visit. The one thing that I always relished about my time there was finding myself, to find my voice, finding out who I really was. I realize now it wasn't the place that helped me there, but it was the time I gave myself to figure that out. It just happened to be there where it happened. Even so, the place remains significant to me.