Going back to a familiar place, whether be your hometown or a city where you spent many years, is a strange mixture of emotions. When I landed in the Minneapolis – St. Paul airport recently for a visit back where I went to graduate school, it was comforting to know exactly where to go. Even the smell of the airport brought back so many memories. My feet led me down the right escalators, around the corners and to the Hiawatha Line Light Rail heading toward downtown Minneapolis. I didn’t even have to remind myself to stop and pay attention. The train went past the stop where I used to get off and walk a few blocks to where I lived. But instead of getting off I stayed on one more stop to go to where my good friends live.
That was the moment I became a visitor again.
As I saw the same areas where I used to drive and walk and shop, I kept finding visual reminders of my absence. A building that told me it was time to take a right turn to my friend’s house was completely gone. New coffee shops had appeared, including an excellent Peace Coffee Shop. Yet, some places, like the Birchwood Cafe, had thankfully not changed a bit. “Strange” is perhaps the only word that describes that funny feeling in your stomach when a place that was so familiar suddenly is different.
It was with this softening of past and present memories in my mind that I went to the artist reception for The Vision Changes – The Eye Remembers art exhibit at the University of St. Thomas on the first night I was back in the Twin Cities. There it was right in front of me. A brand new building being constructed on the corner where I used to park my car. The eye remembers everything. I have missed the very dear friends I made during my time in the Twin Cities and as a student in the Art History Department at St. Thomas. There are no words or emails or phone calls that can make up for a hug, spending time together, laughing and talking. I am honored that some of my photos were selected for this exhibition, and even more so once I saw the beautiful work on display by the other artists in this group exhibit. I saw many familiar faces that night and met some lovely new ones. That night will be one of those sweet and happy memories that I’ll return to again and again.
As promised a couple of weeks ago, I have a few photos from the exhibit to share here. I was so busy talking that I only remembered to snap a few right before leaving.
It’s good to go back to where you came from. It’s good to go back to the places you loved. It’s important to hug the people that we hold dear in our hearts. Those people and those places change – it’s inevitable – but the emotional response and memories that are captured in what our eyes remember will always be the same. Thank goodness for that!