It’s hard to pinpoint the exact event or moment when I realized I was an “old soul.” It could have been all the hours spent studying my parents’ yearbooks. Or maybe it was the summer day I picked up Beverly Gray, Sophomore at a used book sale and noted the copyright date. 1934. I was twelve or thirteen; I must have thought life after high school was going to be like it was for Beverly Gray at Vernon College. I’d live at the equivalent of Chadwick Hall, become a member of Alpha Delta sorority, then graduate and take a world cruise.
Even though the University of Maine wasn’t quite Vernon College, it was there I first read This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald’s treatment of Princeton sounded a little like Vernon College; if I squinted my eyes while walking down the dusk-darkened paths past UMO’s Balentine Hall, I could almost see Beverly Gray studying in a third floor window.
Except that it wasn’t Vernon College and no amount of reading would ever make it so.
When I graduated from college and realized there was no roadster and world cruise waiting for me, I took solace in “American Movie Classics” and Portland’s now no longer “Videoport.” Those were the days, curled up in front of the Tee Vee watching black and white movies. Then there was the flea market at the Portland Expo on Sundays, spending my extra income on McCoy Pottery and old magazines.
Stop me if you’ve read this blog post before.
This week, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview a centenarian as part of my current historical research project. We spent two hours visiting. There was no television or radio blaring in the background, just the quiet of her elegant apartment in an assisted living facility. She had gone to the University of Maine too, although she hadn’t lived at Balentine Hall. She graduated, married, had children, and was engaged in a lifetime of civic work.
She didn’t have much information about the subject of my research. They were acquaintances, but they hadn’t moved in the same circles. Nevertheless, there was a magical quality to our visit and I realized I had been interviewing someone who had lived through more than years. She’d lived through eras.
She was positive and optimistic about life; she said every day was the best one you were going to get.
This morning, while writing today’s post, I found her graduation picture and numerous mentions of her in the college yearbook I located online. I could have looked at these scanned books all morning. Alas, this old soul has to get moving towards the digital roads of industry and finance. And like my new 101 year old friend says, today is the best day I’m going to get.
Those are good words to live by.