Passing the Torch

Standing outside that bar for the first time in years felt strange.  The establishment had since changed hands and was renamed to something I can’t even pronounce. It even boasted a shiny new red sign outside.

Stepping in through the double doors it was nothing as I remembered it to be. The center bar was now an open space and posh built-in tables were found toward the right. The main bar was now located on the left side of the room and another bar was pushed off in the back corner. Not even the main bar resembled anything like the way I remember it.

That place (and how I remember it) has so much history for me. I spent countless “Happy Hours” there and enjoyed a ton of laughs and cocktails with my colleagues. I danced many of nights with friends on that dance floor and had the time of my life doing it. I started working full-time directly out of college so THAT bar was my hangout as a young, professional woman in her early twenties.

I have so many fond memories and good times shared there, but sadly, I felt strange standing in that space all these years later.

It’s all different now.

Things are different now.

My LIFE is different now.

I’m married. I have a mortgage and two children. I no longer work in that town and haven’t been back there in the last several years. My life has taken such a different path and I’ve moved on – so has the bar I once knew.

That bar has moved on to a different time and place. With different people.

Although I was feeling super nostalgic, we decided to stay and grab a few beers. We spent some time reminiscing about the “glory days” and even though I couldn’t recognize a single brick on that wall, it ended up being a fun evening taking a trip down memory lane.

History in that bar.

So much history.

By about 11:30pm, we decided that it was time to go. So many young faces began to crowd the main bar which made us feel like we were about 85 years old. Clearly, we were out of our element so with one last sip we clicked drinks, shared a few more laughs, soon grabbed our coats and headed toward to door.

By this time, a larger crowd of young people swarmed outside waiting to get into the bar. We were leaving the bar to go home and get to bed while those standing outside were just about to start their night. It was yet another sign that things are just so different now.

Making my way past the bouncer and out through the double doors, my eyes locked with a tall, handsome young man who was about to enter the bar. He stared me straight in the eyes and smiled.

And then called me by my maiden name.

My maiden name.

I stood still for a moment.

I was totally confused, not sure of who this man was that stood before me, one who clearly knew who I was.

And then, I gasped.

{*Gasp*}

The young man that stood before me was a former third grade student of mine I had in my classroom 12 years ago.

Exactly.

{GASP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!}

He is now 21 in his final year at Penn State and doing amazingly well. After the initial shock wore off, I gave him a big hug and loved hearing more about his life now. Honestly, I was speechless and in awe of this moment; as he spoke to me, I *still* saw that adorable, sweet little 9 year-old boy that sat in my classroom.

As we chatted outside, he then motioned and called to two other young men who were smoking outside the bar. Both men turned around, walked toward me, smiled and then shouted MY MAIDEN NAME. Again, I was in disbelief. These two men remembered me, too!! They were two more former students of mine home on holiday break, meeting up with some old friends from town.

So there I was, standing outside the bar that *I* used to call home. The bar that *I* spent most of my early twenties in. But, as truth be told, the clock stood still and my time there had expired. It was time to pass the torch to the three young men who were about to enter that night, making that space their own.

It’s now their time.

As I drove home with my husband, I looked forward to crawling into bed to get some decent sleep before my own children woke up. And as I slept, those three former students would be living it up until the wee hours of the morning in the same bar that I once knew and had grown to love.

Different place.

Different time.

But oh, how life comes around full circle.

As I fell asleep that night, I was no longer sad that the bar had changed and I no longer yearned for it to be like the way things were because everything is just as it was meant to be.

My heart is full – knowing that I passed the torch.

Comments

  1. says

    A great post! Luckily, I am 600 miles away from the town I taught my first class in, so while yes, they can drink, I won’t run into them! Although the first year I was down here, I saw a wedding announcement in the paper for the sister of one of my former students. I got in touch with the mom and we had lunch… they’d relocated too!

  2. says

    oh, I so relate to this – bittersweet but more sweet than bitter. A couple of years ago, on a September day when Harvard Square was teeming with the recently-returned students, I announced, with shock, to my husband that the students were closer in age to our kids than to us. He told me, gently but with a smile, that that had been true for a LONG time. Alas. And here we go, onto the next thing. I’m working on an essay about this very thing, the rippling of generations. How wonderful to know so utterly that you had a positive impact (and a powerful one) on that boy (man?)!!
    xo

  3. says

    What a story! Every once in a while I get that feeling when looking at my daughter. She is the exact same age (12) of the children that I taught when I was pregnant with her. It really makes me stop and think because to me it seems like only yesterday I was dressing in my first “teacher” clothes and going to work.

    Sigh

    Time does not stop.

  4. says

    Oh my, Heather- I so love win you write from the heart.

    “Passing the torch” is a perfect description of this feeling.

    {And seeing former students all grown up? So very surreal!}

  5. says

    Hey hawt Mama, isn’t everyone missing the main point here – clearly you have not aged one teeny bit … nothing at all … and they had your gorgeousness etched in their memories for time and eternity.
    You go girl :)

    • says

      Now THAT’S what I’m talkin about!! YES, that is exactly it mama! Pretty awesome that after 12 years they recognized me! ;)

      Always love your comments!!
      xoxo

  6. says

    I work at a college and this past year the student that were entering were born the same year I graduated high school! Yikes! It is amazing how times flies and I think it is fun to look back and reminisce about the glory days.

  7. says

    Lovely post. I’m with Nicole. I prefer to imagine that while they aged, we stayed the same. At least on the outside — but I still wouldn’t trade what I’ve learned and experience in those years for a few wrinkles.

    Now I have “Glory Days” stuck in my head. Sing it Bruce.

  8. says

    Wow, from start to finish I was eating up your words! Such a great post! I run into former students all the time, but they’re still in high school…I can’t imagine running into them at a bar but it’s bound to happen in this small town.

  9. says

    This story reminds me of the movie St. Elmo’s Fire. Not exactly how it goes but still so many memories of being young and celebrating every night with friends.

    I don’t know who I would run into in a bar these days. But my guess is someone I probably wouldn’t WANT to run into. Hehehe!

  10. says

    Oh, I know that feeling! My baby sister recently turned 21 and has “discovered” the very places I used to frequent. It makes me feel tremendously old and tremendously past my expiration date, honestly. And it’s difficult to believe that that time in my life is really over – it doesn’t seem like all that long ago, and yet I know I’ll soon be celebrating the 12th anniversary of my 21st birthday. ;)

  11. says

    It’s bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s so exciting and thrilling to see things changes and moving forward all around me. On the other hand, it’s a bit of a reminder that we aren’t here forever and that no matter if it’s good or bad, times change.

    One of the *babies* I used to watch as a teenager is graduating from college this year. It really is an amazing thing to see.

  12. says

    How neat to have been able to see a former student but isn’t it wild how fast time goes and how WE are now the ones that can say “I remember you when you were…”?

  13. says

    I am speechless…I can definitely relate, but I haven’t gone back to my old haunts yet. I don’t know how I would feel about it because I know that I would have to say goodbye–officially. Seeing an old student is rewarding and it makes me proud to hear of their accomplishments. But seeing that student in *my* hangout would be kind of rough I think.

    • says

      It WAS rough at first because it was owning up to the fact that THAT place was no longer “mine,” that my time had ended. The bar and everything I remembered it to be had moved on…just as my life had moved on.

      Different place. Different time.

      But oh, how life comes around full circle sometimes.

  14. says

    What a cool story! And you put such a positive spin on a situation that would have made a lot of women moan,”I feel so OLD!”

    I’ve gone back to a few of my old haunts over the years. Even when they remain exactly as they were, it’s never the same.

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