Last weekend we dropped Daniel off at Carnegie-Mellon for summer school (the CMU drama school’s pre-college musical theater program). It was essentially the first time I’d gone back to CMU since I graduated (we visited for a couple of hours back in 1992, but we spent most of the time visiting friends in the area and very little time on campus).
We got in on Friday afternoon, got our car and headed in. I have to admit that it felt quite strange seeing all the landmarks as we drove in from the airport. We got onto 376 and headed west towards CMU.
We drove around the campus pointing out all the relevant locations to Daniel and Sharron. Then we parked the car and took an impromptu tour of the campus.
Even after 25 years, the campus hasn’t changed very much. They’ve built a couple of new buildings on the cut (a large swatch of lawn that runs from Forbes Ave to the Hunt Library). I like the new performing arts center (not surprisingly, they have a killer theater), but not the new campus center (the space itself seems to be fine, I just dislike how the building looks).
My biggest shock happened when we entered Doherty Hall. I hadn’t realized it, but the building still had the same smell to it. I know it’s weird, but I associate memories with odors, and Doherty has a distinct smell that is still there. I was also surprised that they hadn’t really changed the two big lecture halls in Doherty. We then wandered over to Science^H^H^H^H^H^HWean hall and started looking at the various professors offices. Wean 7500 (the big lecture hall in Wean) also hasn’t changed in the past 25 years (although they did upgrade the lobby outside the lecture hall, go figure that one).
We continued outside and eventually wandered up to Squirrel Hill to get dinner…
Saturday was spent moving Daniel into his dorm room and attending various and sundry orientations, many of which were quite good (and some were utterly tedious). Vaguely humorously, I ran into one father who was dropping his daughter off for the pre-college musical theater program. He mentioned that his son was working at Microsoft for the summer :). Strange world.
Sunday we went to Kennywood, which is Pittsburgh’s main amusement park (with some utterly killer roller coasters). Fortunately it was threatening rain, so the crowds were light. Again Kennywood is almost exactly as I remembered it; I have to say I was really impressed with what they’d done with the place – even though it’s on a major road, it feels both cozy and expansive at the same time.
Sunday evening we went to the O’s for dinner; we’d spent the past 15 or so years raving about the place to our kids, we figured it would be a shame not to go there. The hot dogs were just as good as I’d remembered. After dinner, we caught up with a friend from college and spent a couple of hours catching up on old times (which wasn’t nearly enough time).
Monday we flew back to Seattle, we’re still tired from the trip, but it was a HUGE amount of fun. I hadn’t realized just how much I had missed Pittsburgh all these years.
Connecting odors to memories is not strange at all, actually, I read a scientific paper one or two years ago that the part of the brain that processes smells is somehow directly connected to some parts of the brain that manage memories...