Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Solo Day Trip to Amherst

When this past weekend rolled around and I didn't have any plans to do much of anything, I began contemplating taking a drive out of Boston, just to clear my head and get a change of scenery. Within about twenty minutes of awaking on Saturday morning, I decided I'd like to drive to Amherst, got dressed, filled a water bottle, grabbed my camera (which I didn't really end up using), jumped in my car, scooped some Dunkin Donuts, and hopped onto the Mass Pike for a 100-minute drive west.

It wasn't a very nice day for a drive - a mixture of snow and rain - so that put a slight damper on my ability to zone out while driving to ponder life's great questions. Instead, I skillfully maneuvered my Yaris down the wet Pike while singing along with my iPod at the top of my lungs. (Quick random poll: Do you sing while you drive? I only recently realized that not everyone does this, which seems really effing weird to me. Please weigh-in via Twitter or Facebook.)

Arriving in the Pioneer Valley, my very first stop was Esselon Cafe. This was where I had my first post-college job as a server/barista/staff supervisor. I graduated from UMass in the spring of 2006 and then floundered a bit for that summer, not knowing where my next step should be. With a whole crop of the-best-effing-friends-in-the-whole-world still finishing up their final year of school at UMass, it wasn't terribly hard for me to decide to move back to Amherst for the fall "semester." There, I found an apartment, scooped the job at Esselon, and then spent the next year working there full-time while pretending I was still in college with my friends.

When I stopped into the cafe for brunch on Saturday, it was the first time I'd been there in years - but the place hasn't changed a bit (aside from staff turnover). I ordered French toast with strawberry compote and fresh berries, which I enjoyed with a big mug of hot coffee before getting back into my car and beginning the ultimate Amherst-drive-around.

French Toast from Esselon Cafe in Hadley, MA, brunch food
.  as seen by all the cool people on my instagram  .
For about 2 hours, I wound and wove my way through the streets of Amherst and through every nook and cranny of the UMass campus. So much has changed in town and on-campus since I was a student there. Businesses have closed, moved, changed hands, changed names. A tonnnn of new buildings have sprouted up all over campus, leaving some areas nearly unrecognizable.

UMass Amherst campus pond and view of the library and student union
.  campus pond and view of the library and student union  .

I made special trips past a few of my old apartments and dorm buildings, as well as some of my favorite off-campus hangouts. The latter included some of the best and most notorious "party houses" around town, which were all given colloquial nicknames like Russell Street, Hippie House, Long Radio House, or Monkey House. Everywhere I drove, bittersweet memories flooded back to me, which - as the term bittersweet generally implies - was both good and sad.

Before leaving town, I did manage to park and actually get out of my car for a bit to head into the Campus Center, where my wallet took a hit as I went a little H.A.M. on the University Store's apparel section.

Sweatshirts and clothes at the UMass Amherst University Store

It seemed high time for my wardrobe to get some fresh UMass gear, so I bought two new t-shirts and a sweatshirt. The sweatshirt has barely left my body since Saturday - it's so freaking soft and cozy.

There were so many fun and irreplaceable times had in Amherst, and driving around town/campus was pretty much as literal as you can be with the phrase "taking a trip down memory lane." It was a much-needed reflection session, and I was glad that I was alone for the day - able to drive absolutely anywhere that I pleased, able to stop at any random house or building or parking lot that I wanted, able to spend as much time as I chose. But I do hope I'm with lots of friends the next time I go!! :)

And on that note, check out this post from the last time I visited Amherst with my friends Kara and Kyle!

Where did you go to school?
When was the last time you headed back to your college campus?
Do you still keep in touch with your college friends?


No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave me some love!