Monday, July 1, 2013

You Can’t Go Back

Last week I drove to Norman to attend a meeting with Congressman Cole urging him to support expanded background checks.  Never in a million years did I think I would one day return to Norman for this.  Funny how your path in life can lead to some unexpected places and how stepping out of your comfort zone can open doors you never knew existed.

I graduated from OU in 2001.  I’ve been back occasionally, but not a lot.  The changes were shocking.  My brother is a student there.  I met up with him after the meeting to go to have lunch at O’Connell’s.  Only thing was, O’Connell’s  is no longer the O’Connell’s I remembered, the O’Connell’s I went to for my 21st birthday.  It’s a completely different building in a completely different location.

“You should drive by where O’Connell’s used to be,” he told me.

My brother and I chatted about this and that.  We talked about his new job and school.  We talked about his plans.  I was jealous.  Jealous of all the potential.  He’s still figuring things out and that’s great.  There’s no rush I told him.  Follow your passion I told him.  He has all the time in the world to fail.  To fail and recover and fail again until he figures it out.  That’s the amazing thing about being 20.

We said our good-byes and I headed back home.  I decided to take his advice and drive around campus and see that corner where O’Connell’s used to sit.  I didn’t even recognize it.  In its place now sits a huge dorm building.  I drove around half the time only realizing after I left where I had been.  I drove by the Seed Sower statue and wanted to stop and take a picture, but I had no idea where to park.  Everything was so different.

And I got weepy.  Weepy for old times, for my friends that I haven’t seen in a while.  And weepy for the old me.  I wish I could tell old me all the same things I told my brother earlier that day.  I wanted to drive up to my old apartment and find that version of me.  The one who instead of passion followed practicality and expectations.  The one who sometimes seemed afraid of life and all that it had to offer.  I wanted to walk into her apartment and say, “Let’s talk.”  I wanted to tell her to stop worrying.  Everything turns out ok.  I wanted to tell her to take a risk every now and again.  You have all the time in world to fail.

I left campus frustrated that things were so different.  So different that I couldn’t even find a place to stop and take a picture.  I was mad that time has gone by so fast.  Why does it have to go so damn fast? I felt compelled to find one thing to connect me back to the past.  I stopped at Classic 50’s.  For old time’s sake I ordered a cherry Diet Dr. Pepper and Pickle-o’s even though I wasn’t hungry.

I drove out of town amazed at all the things that can happen in 11 years.  How things are like I expected they would turn out and then again not.  I realized that I couldn’t go back in time, but I could talk to me now.  The one that has the power over right now and over the next 11 years and the next 11 years after that.  I could talk to her.  I could tell her, “It’s okay.  You have all the time in the world to fail.  Everything is going to be okay.”

1 comment:

  1. My heart dropped when I drove by this fall and "saw" the missing "O'Connells. I am not a proponent of violence, friends and I had a lot of fun at the Greek boxing tourney every year. Do they still do that? Thank goodness Classic 50s still has Pickle-o's. Thanks for the advice to your former self. My former and current self needed to hear that, too.