Driving north this time of year is like traveling back in time.

In Louisiana, the winter green has given way to late spring lushness, and the flowering shrubs are already passing their peak. The college girls are out in tiny scraps of bikini working on their tans, and we’re deciding when to run outside based on whether it’s too hot yet or not. Head up 59N and it’s a time lapse film played backwards as the flowers return to the height of their glory, the greens fade from dark to light, and the temperature drops.

In our Midwestern destination, the daffodils are standing boldly against the cold and ice (yes, ice in April — barbaric) and the trees are just starting to look vaguely greenish with buds. The early bloomers, like the tulip trees, are screaming that spring is coming, even if the weather is trying very hard to make us believe otherwise.

We’ve made this trek to give us a taste of our new city. Our intention had been just to learn some of the neighborhoods the residents favor, thinking it would make online house hunting easier in the coming months, but to our surprise we ended up finding a fantastic house and putting an application in right away. We located the important landmarks — the hospital, a few independent coffee shops, the grocery stores, and a library branch — and started to familiarize ourselves with the basic layout of the city. All in all, a very productive trip.

Before all of our exploration, I went back in time in a different way and met up with a group of friends I haven’t seen much of since graduating from college. I was nervous about this, as I really wasn’t sure what kind of reception to expect. Would it be like meeting strangers? What if nobody really remembered me? When we arrived at the event, it took a little while to find the people we were looking for, and then there they were. Some of the passage of time was obvious, visible in the increased grey in a beard or at a temple. The infant who was born shortly after I graduated is now in elementary school and her older brother is the age of our current housemate. In the ways that matter, though, it was as if we had only been apart for a month or two. Conversation came easily and jokes picked right back up where we’d left off.

It’s strange for me to be here in the region I went to college in, but I think I’m grateful that we’re going to be a few hours away from there for the next year. My friends are good people who clearly recognize that I’m a different person than I was a decade ago, and our relationships will be different because of the impact that decade has had on all of us. These changes don’t mean we have to toss everything and start over again from scratch, and after this weekend I’m looking forward to reconnecting with all of them. It’s comforting to know that this kind of time travel is possible, and even better to know that I can bring all of that history with me into the future.

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