It was almost exactly 20 years ago that my entire life was packed into Dad Clutter's car, and we hit the road from Concord, New Hampshire, and set off to Saratoga Springs, NY, where I was going to begin my freshman year of college. I remember saying goodbye to Mom Clutter, getting into the car, and then I'm not sure if I said more than three sentences for the 3 1/2 hour drive. I was in a complete panic, and I just don't remember the words being there. I don't handle change well, and this was about as big of a change as I had faced in my life up until that point. (It's funny, because I think that's the day Dad Clutter gave me a little jade Buddha, who just happens to be sitting right next to me as I write this.) I couldn't begin to predict what was coming next, and there would be some major ups and downs over the next four years, but overall, things worked out pretty well.
So, it seemed fitting that as I prepare to start my new job tomorrow, and am thinking about how it's going to change almost every aspect of my routine, that I would find myself once again on the road to Saratoga Springs, for the first time in 10 years. This wasn't a well thought out plan. (I do advance planning almost as well as I handle change) Earlier this week, I suggested to my longtime college friends Ben and Brian that we meet for lunch in Connecticut (where they both live) on Saturday, because we hadn't hung out in a while. It was Brian who had the idea to change the location to Saratoga, and it's the best idea he's had in the entire time I've known him. (At least that I can write about here.)
I took a different route to get there yesterday than I had 20 years ago, since I was coming from Boston this time. It didn't really all kick in until I hit I-87 North and found a 1990's radio station. As I drove up that road with Stone Temple Pilots/Counting Crows/Dave Matthews/Soul Asylum playing, I found myself thinking, "God, do I have a paper to finish before Monday?" Apparently old habits die hard.
We met for lunch at the local sports bar, Peabody's, where we ate something like 45 wings. The three of us lost many an hour at Peabody's, "back in the day," and it was such a treat to hang out there again for a little while and enjoy our food with a Sam Adams. We then went to check out the school campus. (Don't worry, I'm not going to do a whole play-by-play. I just want to mention two things.)
Our first stop was the student center. Now, I've had two consistent "stress dreams" for years. One is that I'm about to graduate, but it's unclear if I remembered to officially drop some English class, or if I just skipped it all year, and now I'm going to fail. The other is that I roam around the student center for hours, completely unable to find my mailbox, and no one will help me. So, it actually hit a bit of a nerve when we walked into the student center yesterday. In my defense, it turns out that the reason I can never find my mailbox in that dream is because they moved them downstairs. Having now returned to "the scene of the crime," I'll be curious to see if I ever have that dream again.
The second place of note was the house we lived in senior year. Our old school has some on-campus housing that resembles condos more than dorms. I first met Ben and Brian when we were randomly assigned to one of these places our junior year. So, we find the building, take a peak through the window and see that the back door is open. No one was there, so we took a quick little tour. Holy deja vu all over again. The place looked exactly the same, except that it all seemed much smaller than I remember. (Especially when you compare it to the spacious Clutter Headquarters.) So many stories immediately came to mind as we looked at our old rooms. That was a treat and a half.
We eventually said our goodbyes, and now all I can think about now is that 20 years ago, I faced a huge new change that made me anxious as hell, and it ended up being a great adventure. That's what I'm focusing on today as I get ready for tomorrow. Of course I'm nervous. I want the "kids at school" to like me. I want to be good at my job. I'm anxious about when I'm going to be able to work in some Clutter, and I'm nervous about all of this change, like always.
However, I'm also excited, because for the first time in a while, I don't have the slightest idea what's coming next, and I know that these things have a way of working themselves out. In other words, here we go again.
This is probably the last posting under our "normal" schedule, so thank you all again for hanging out with us every day, and I promise we will be back soon. For now, that's tonight's Clutter, and we are outta here.
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