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