Traveling back to a familiar place is always a treat. There are the memories of important events, times with friends, trips around a city, and the daily life that became a part of your routine. It's interesting to see how some things don't change much over time, but at the same time there are new businesses, new bus lines, and new faces. Despite that, it bring back a flood of memories (good, bad, and somewhere in the middle) that helped shape the person you are today.
I have currently had this experience in Los Angeles. I arrived in LAX, which brought back memories of trips home to visit family, but returning to LA to resume my studies or work. There were also 2 vacations to Mexico sprinkled in there somewhere.
Taking a trip to Occidental (my alma mater) involved taking a bus from West LA to Union Station, then another from Union Station to Eagle Rock. During my first 5 years in LA I didn't have a car, and so I spent a fair amount of time commuting by bus or bike. Riding the buses made me remember the times I went by bus to explore downtown LA, the time I had to do a cultural event for a Spanish class and waited over an hour for the bus to go to Olvera Street, and I even passed by the courthouse where I was summoned for jury duty during Spring Break one year in college. A few people loaded their bikes onto the front of the rapid bus line, which is the same service I used to get around from time to time.
Union Station and Olvera Street are always places I visit when I come to LA. Union Station is beautiful with its architexture, old design, and it just has a charm about it. Olvera Street brings back memories of trips with friends, Day of the Dead celebrations, and a field trip with some of my students when I taught in Woodland Hills. They had never been on public transportation before, and they had a great time exploring, seeing what the area was like, and just being out of the classroom for a day.
After about an hour and a half and two buses I made it to Occidental. The length of the ride didn't bother me at all, as I was able to listen to my Ipod and watch the scenery to pass the time. Walking through the neighborhood brought back the memories of living off campus and hanging out at the local coffee shop. On campus, I felt the nostalgia of eating on campus, walking to and from classes, and living in a world where I didn't have too much to worry about besides classes.
The students on campus seemed so carefree. Seeing that makes me wish I was back in college, and part of it makes me regret not having been more carefree when I was there. At the same time, I was in the situation of taking demanding classes and also having to work to make ends meet, so having enough energy for a social life or being carefree didn't seem like much of an option at the time.
Spending time with friends, visiting familiar places, and reconnecting are all deeply fulfilling things that I have been very fortunate to have each time I come back to Los Angeles. If it weren't for the economy, I would venture to say that it would be something that would bring me back to the City of Angels.