This past weekend, I visited my cousin in Rochester, New York. She is graduating from the Eastman School of Music and it was the occasion of her senior recital. She is an extremely talented violinist and my heart was swelling with pride when I saw her perform. Of course I've seen her play at family functions since she was old enough to hold a bow, but seeing her up on that stage in an unbelievably beautiful performance hall very nearly brought me to tears.
After her performance, we went to a friend of my cousin's for an after-party. At my aunt's request, my cousin and one of her friend's sang a few songs. These "kids" are just full to bursting with talent. My uncle, himself an extremely gifted musician, took up the guitar after and played while the whole room sang, myself included, although quietly so as not to embarrass myself too badly. We sang and laughed until nearly 1am, when the old fogies, my aunts and uncles and myself, had to abandon the younger crew to their fun.
My own college experience was not the most traditional. I started out at one school but after a year I left to "find myself." When I returned at a different school a few years later, I was past the magic of the experience. At that point, I was just ready to do what I needed to do and be done with it. So I didn't form the kind of deep relationships that I saw so clearly between my cousin and her friends. Most of the time, I don't really think about this. It is not the sort of thing that haunts me. I have enough real regrets that I won't waste time on stuff like this. But on the occasion when it is placed in front of me, I can't help but be nostalgic for something that never was.
It was a long drive for what amounted to less than a 24 hour visit, but to get to spend time with some of my favorite people and to share space with that kind of energy, every mile of the journey was worth it.