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A Birthday Present: Ageless
Proof of ageless
My best friend and college roommate Susan gave me the most incredible unexpected present for my 75th birthday—a trip to Carnegie-Mellon, our alma mater, where neither of us had been for over five decades. Not surprisingly, the campus had changed, and some memories were vivid and others a bit sketchy or non-existent. The best part, though, was that to each other, we hadn’t aged at all. We were the same sassy, sometimes silly, generally naive young women we were way back then.
Our visit started auspiciously. Sitting in the back of the taxi on the way in from the airport, as we passed the University of Pittsburgh, I asked Susan whether she remembered that we briefly dated dental students from Pitt. “We dated dentists?” she asked incredulously. Our driver started to laugh. I explained that it wasn’t for long, but I remembered they had unique Temptations dance routines. Now the driver was leaning into a true guffaw—dancing dentists! And she can’t remember! No way, Susan insisted. Our driver lost it, still shaking his head as he drove off.
Campus was much bigger than we expected. New buildings, coffee shops everywhere. No vending machine coffee for these kids. Top of our list of must-sees was our apartment where we lived junior and senior years. First day, we loitered outside. Nobody came in or out.
Second day, we loitered again. As we were about to move on, we saw a young woman leaving, but we weren’t fast enough to stop the door from closing. Instead, we stopped her. Happily, she was a lovely civil engineering student from West Virginia who turned out to live in our apartment and was willing to invite us in. We were transported, visualizing ourselves and our lives way back when. (We were a lot neater!) She thought we were cool. We thought she was adorable. Amazing. Karma.
My cool factor was short-lived. We visited the Campus Bookstore. I asked where the books were. The poor woman looked confused and finally said that there may be one or two downstairs. Susan cracked up. I didn’t bother to go look. They should change its name.
It was the perfect present. The skies were blue, the weather was warm, and the air was clear (entirely different from our memories). The kids were outside enjoying Spring Carnival in various states of (un)dress, but still as focused and serious about their studies as we remembered (we didn’t understand a word of the student theses posted in the computer science center). What we saw of Pittsburgh gave us renewed faith. As other cities are falling apart, Pittsburgh is having a renaissance. Good government and corporate and educational civic responsibility are a winning combination.
We couldn’t remember the names of people we dated, courses we took, fellow dormmates… but none of that mattered. It’s where we started, both as grown-ups and as friends. And to be able to go back to the beginning together was the true gift. Thank you, Susan.