Editor’s note: Mark Hutchins ’70 visited campus and sent this piece via email to the Alumni Relations Office. It is reproduced here with his permission.
Five years ago I visited for a few days in the summer. It was a very strange experience. I wandered over the campus in search of my youth. Everywhere I looked, most of it was the same as I remembered. But all my friends were long gone. Only the memories still fresh. Everywhere I looked, ghosts materialized. Events materialized. I drank it in as only an older middle-aged man can. Here had taken place the best years of my life. I grew up here. My mind roared here. Some of the best friendships I have ever known were initiated and cultivated here. Some remain today.
But reality and time intruded. The snack bar at the union did not have vanilla Cokes. Nunzi’s, the Warehouse, Buckland’s … all gone. The town looked a little depressed and worn. A number of buildings gone.
Finally I went into Seneca Hall and up to my old room on the seventh floor. Forty years ago! I lived in Seneca for three years. It was new when I moved in. So was I. Now it is weather-worn … blasted from forty years of storms. So am I. My room, 703 North, was exactly the same, however. Even the same furniture had survived, in good condition, for those forty years.
I sat down on a bed and conversations whispered that I had forgotten. Important discussions on the meaning of life, future plans, goals, and nonsense. I was there for an hour, just lost in the idea of this place in time. I think for a moment or two I could have opened that door and walked right back out into my life then. A mirror hanging above the bureau jolted me back to reality.
I stuck a newly bought Moody Blues CD in my rental car’s stereo and parked along the lake front with a beer and a sunset for company. Lost in remorse at paths not taken and opportunities not recognized. Joy at the threads I’ve kept up to this place. And grateful for all those people, in this place, who contributed to who I am now.
Mark Hutchins ’70 is an architect in Pasadena, Calif.