As we drove away from Middlebury in August 2008, I teared up a little at the thought of never seeing it again. It had become such a special place to me over that summer and I hoped that somehow, we'd find a way to come back.
Then we moved to Ithaca, which is a scant five-hour drive from Middlebury. A five-hour drive, I might add, that winds through some of the most gorgeous countryside this nation has to offer. Even if you drive it in late March, as we did, which is the "least pretty time of year" according to someone we met in Sharon.
As we crested the last hill outside of town and the campus of Middlebury College came into view piece by piece, I was overwhelmed with memories from 2008. Most of them didn't surprise me - that initial rush of wonder at all the shades of green; exploring the campus every day, all day with almost-three-year-old Miriam; walking a mile to the bus stop to take the bus to Vergennes for appointments with the midwife; climbing eight flights of stairs in Bicentennial Hall (twice) to get labor going. Hanging out at the library. Walking down through the Farmers' Market to the waterfall. Eating at Ross Dining Hall. Enjoying my last days with Miriam as an only child. Birthing a baby. Being congratulated by dozens of strangers on campus in many different languages. You know, fond, warm, tender memories.
What I didn't expect was the accompanying rush of not-so-pleasant memories. All of a sudden I remembered how Jeremy was almost never around except for mealtimes in the cafeteria when we were surrounded by a few hundred other people and we were speaking only in Arabic. How we were always finding huge millipedes in our house, including on our bed. Most of all, as we drove into town a few days ago, I was overwhelmed with memories of being hugely pregnant, having to walk everywhere, and being hot and sweaty and awkward all the time. I don't know why I was so caught off guard by that feeling, because every bit of that was true.
On this visit, it was wonderful to be my normal, un-pregnant self, and also to have a car and for the weather to be freezing cold. Despite these differences, Middlebury is still magic to me. It was so much fun to revisit all our old haunts. I'm sure Miriam got very tired of me asking her every other minute whether she remembered doing this, or that, or the other. Sometimes she remembered but sometimes she didn't. We took plenty of pictures to compare with the old days and I was so happy for Magdalena the Middlebury baby to return to the place of her birth, at least once.
Now for some pictures. Here's Miriam at the (site of, in winter) Farmers' Market in 2008 (top) and 2010. I think I got the position almost exactly right even without having the original photo as a reference.
Miriam in front of our house in 2008 (top) and 2010.
If you look closely, you'll notice that since we lived there, Hillcrest 70 House has acquired a new tenant.
We made sure to have dinner one of the nights at the "restaurant" - Ross Dining Hall. Oh man, it was good eating. I miss that place. A lot. I made sure to relish in the fact that I could now reach all the food items by myself (no huge pregnant belly in the way) and also nobody ever had to scoot in their chair so I could squeeze past. It's the little victories, you know?
I stopped in at the midwife's office in Vergennes - did you know it only takes 15 minutes to get there from Middlebury by car? I'm glad I didn't know that when I spent 50 minutes on a bus, each way, once a week. Unfortunately, she wasn't there because she was attending a birth. I left her a note.
I was sad, again, the second time we drove away from Middlebury but I take comfort in the fact that at least we went back once, and we will most likely go there again someday.