Saturday, April 16, 2011

Back to the Future

Last Saturday, we drove down to Bloomington for dinner to celebrate my nephew’s twenty-first birthday. Afterward, Steve, Kate, Heidi, Jake and I walked up Kirkwood Street toward campus. It was a beautiful spring evening, dusk. There were people everywhere, threading in and out of restaurants, eating ice cream, gathering for a street dance, playing hackey-sack in what used to be People's Park.

We crossed University Avenue and Heidi and Jake took off running through the gates, up the brick path. “This is so awesome,” they kept saying.

Jake to Heidi as some kids passed, laughing and talking: “This could be us.”

We went to the Student Union and showed them where Steve and I met on the very first day of my freshman year, then walked past Beck Chapel, where we were married.

There, they spotted colored lights near the Fine Arts Building and took off running again. An installation, an erector-set-like tower, was casting the changing lights on the side of the limestone building, and some students were lying on the sidewalk, feet against the building, looking up. So we did, too. Something shifted and it felt as if we were standing, the side of the building flat, in front of us, and the one square window, high up, like a black hole you could step into.

From there, we walked back toward town, past the Sigma Chi house, where a bunch of guys and girls were going up the sidewalk, inside.

It felt magical and strange to be with our grandchildren in that place where we started. Walking up the same sidewalk on so many Saturday nights so long ago, we couldn’t possibly have imagined it.

Not those particular beautiful, beloved grandchildren, not that particular spring night.