The walk through campus looks so different since I returned to my final term at York.
Now when I arrive, walking past the Old Sports Centre, all I see is queues of Freshers eager to see what freebies they can glean from Fresher’s Fair. I walk through James College, past McQ’s filling up for the weekly pub quiz, and post-night-outers tucking into the CU’s free toasties. Past N Block, where I can still hear the geese alarms shirking the first years out of their hangovers, and over Vanbrugh Bridge, under construction still, where I once passed out after an unsuccessful bar crawl.
Across Vanbrugh Paradise, where we sunbathed with revision notes and watched fireworks across the lake. Heading up to the Courtyard, where we devour burgers, and through the hall I sat exams in. Wander through Langwith, dodge students filing out of lectures, up to the Quiet Place, where I cried and told my mum I was homesick in first year.
Then up, back through Derwent, past the corner with The Charles, where countless quick pints turned into late night Chinese takeaways, or worse, Chinese discos. Walk along University Road, watching a duck cause a traffic jam. Nip into Costcutter for a cursory glance at the reduced section, then off to the library.
No scaffolding anymore, through the puff of smoke into the Morrell. Discover the book that salvages your essay, then down to the Silent Study area, home of naps. Retrace my steps to the exit, and over to Alcuin Bridge to see people trudging back from late-night snowball fights. Snaking through the Alcuin blocks, past the room where I was elected onto a committee and where I received my first ever fail.
Cross Derwent Bridge, past the poster advertising the house I lived in during third year. Trot down the stairs, back to the lake, and follow it to the Exhibition Centre. I fainted in there on my first day of lectures, was carried to the health centre by some startled strangers. The countless YSC films I watched in that building flicker, the countless student papers I read waiting for a lecture fade.
Sit on my favourite bench, outside the maths’ rooms, and watch friends graduate across the lake in Central Hall while I throw crumbs at the surrounding ducks. It’s me next. Then it’ll be you.
Originally published 20/05/13 for The Yorker Nostalgia (print) Issue.