Nostalgia postpones the inevitable

I think that it’s just now sinking in that I’m graduating in three weeks. I’ve been trying to keep myself in denial as long as possible since I’m nowhere near finishing my capstone project. I don’t want to admit that maybe, just maybe, I’m supposed to start acting like a responsible adult, and thinking about it kind of makes me feel old. Though speaking of feeling old, it seems that the longer I’m here, the harder it becomes to not feel old on a somewhat regular basis. Once or twice, I’ve made jokes about creating an “It might be time to graduate if…” list.

Most of the items would fall into the category of, “Underclassmen give me blank stares when I talk about things that I swear didn’t happen that long ago.” That might be a pretty big clue that, at the very least, I need to move ahead and become a grad student so that at least I have a good excuse.

It’s pretty amazing, though, all of the things that have changed at Tech since the first time I set foot on the campus. Starting out with the most obvious avenue of change, construction, I can remember when the aquatic center was outdoors, when Atlantic Drive between 10th Street and Ferst Drive was actually open, and when the Student Center Commons was the Bookstore Mall, just to mention a few.

If you’re still an undergrad and can remember at least two out of three of those, you might want to think about trying to graduate soon.

Speaking of the Bookstore Mall becoming the Commons, I remember a few other name changes around campus, as well, and using the old names almost always elicits confusion among younger students.

Take the CRC, for example; not that long ago, it was the SAC. Likewise, the Astroturf fields on West Campus will always be SAC Field to me, no matter what they’re calling it these days. Likewise, I still find myself calling North Avenue Apartments, “The Village,” though that’s a more recent name change that (I hope) everyone knows about at this point.

There are a bunch of other random changes around Tech that I can remember, as well. I remember when smoking was allowed in campus housing, when the intro to computer science class was taught in Scheme instead of Python, when the Stingers had a blue and gold paint job and fabric seats (and likewise, when the old-and-busted Stingers we have now were brand new) and the signs marking the Stinger stops said “Buzz Stop,” something I always thought was pretty corny. There might still be one of those old signs at the bus stop just north of Papa John’s on State Street, now that I think about it.

I also remember when the grocery shuttle went to the Kroger on Howell Mill instead of the Publix in Atlantic Station, when Folk dormitory on West Campus was a run-down, all-male dorm and when the Burger Bowl got flooded with sewage and they had to tape it off until it could be cleaned up.

That last bit probably will make you think twice about going barefoot over there, now, won’t it?

The things that I’ve listed barely scratch the surface of all of the changes, big and small, good and bad, that have happened since I’ve been around Tech.

Overall, though, I’d say that most of the changes have been for the better, even if there are a few things I kind of miss.

Even the Technique has gone through a lot of changes as I’ve gone from being the youngest member of the editorial board to the member who has been at the paper longer than anyone else. Of all of the changes, perhaps the one that I’m still the happiest about is when we finally replaced those awful (and sometimes explosive) iMacs.

So now that my age is definitely showing, I can at least take comfort in the fact that I have at least one friend who is graduating this semester who has been here as an undergrad even longer than I have.

Regardless of how long any of us graduating this semester have been here, however, I like to think that we’re kind of special. We will be the last class that will shake Dr. Clough’s hand as we walk across the stage and receive our diploma stand-in.

That’s kind of a big deal when you think about it, particularly since a lot of the changes that have happened on campus since we’ve been here have been directed, at least in part, by President Clough. Maybe those who are graduating but haven’t been around as long don’t so much feel that this coincidence is a real end of an era, but I feel like there’s almost something poetic about it.

So, enough of my waxing philosophical. I don’t really know where I was trying to go with this, other than trying to demonstrate that I’ve been here for a while and that I guess it’s about time that I got out. But I don’t want Tech to think that she’s gotten rid of me so easily—I plan on being back to get my master’s degree in a couple semesters.

Maybe I’m a masochist, or maybe I’ve found that the two truths about Tech that our own Two Bits Man likes to share with incoming freshmen to be fairly accurate: “1) You will love Tech. 2) You will hate Tech.” Yeah, I think that about covers it.