posted on November 21, 2011 15:39
Florida State University has changed a lot across the past 21 years. New parking garages. Beautified streets with limited access for cars. A football stadium transformed from a white bowl with wooden bleachers at either end, to a brick-laden fortress connected to high-tech classrooms and numerous visitors’ amenities.
During the past 24 hours I spent a little time on campus in Tallahassee, my first time there in a decade. As I gazed out at the football field of Doak Campbell Stadium, I realized I had not been there since the FSU football “dynasty” of 1987-2000 came to an end. More personally, I also had the sobering epiphany that most of the students I saw were not born when I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in April 1990.
I’m getting older. But hopefully better—in some ways, at least.
I used to get really excited about shopping for FSU gear. Today it was fun seeing my children get so excited today inside the sprawling stadium retail store, begging to buy almost everything in sight. Sweatshirts. Earrings. Headbands. Pillows. Flip-flops. Fun, that is, until it was time to whip out the debit card.
It’s tempting to constantly re-live old times or old places such as high school or college, but my tolerance for nostalgia ebbs a little more each year (despite already publishing memoir of youth called Chased by the Wind). I’m too excited about the present and future (and the transcendent) these days.
Still, a healthy sense of context and roots does us well in life. And it’s cool to show your kids your old stomping grounds, and to experience the setting afresh through their eyes.
One thing that hasn’t changed in 21 years: I still yell at the Seminoles’ football team when they blow a play or a game (and they most certainly did both this past Saturday against Virginia). I don’t yell quite as much as I used to, and I “recover” from losses far more rapidly. But once your alma mater is in your blood, no transfusion of competing interests or loyalties can fully squeeze it out. There are some habits that are too fun to drop, especially when the torch slowly begins to pass to a new generation.