Thursday, February 14, 2013

Carolina In My Mind

In my mind I'm goin' to Carolina
Can't you see the sunshine
Can't you just feel the moonshine
Ain't it just like a friend of mine
To hit me from behind
Yes I'm goin' to Carolina in my mind
As a native North Carolinian and a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, otherwise known as "Carolina", James Taylor's best known song has always had multiple meanings for me.  Last weekend the title of the song, "Carolina in my Mind" took on a whole new meaning.
I haven't been on the UNC campus much in the past 15 years or so, and when I have it's been primarily for football games.   So while I knew there had been changes and additional buildings built, etc., what I had seen was mostly confined to south campus, around the hospital and stadium. 
While I know that change is inevitable, I realized Saturday that the changes are so great, MY Carolina is now only in my mind.  The dining hall where I ate most of my meals my freshman year... gone.  The woods I walked through to class... gone.  The parking lot where we slid down the hill and onto the ice on anything we could find to sit on... gone.
This campus is not one I know.  It has been over 20 years since I left Chapel Hill, and it makes me feel old.  To my young, 25 year old, coworker, who just graduated a couple of years ago, everything looks normal.  To me, at least in a physical sense, it's an unfamiliar place.
But emotionally, part of me will always be there.  I can only imagine what it looked like when my father was there in the late 50's and early 60's, and I remember going to football games as a child and playing in the woods next to the bleachers while my parents watched the game in a stadium that held probably a quarter of the people it now holds.  I was born, raised, and bred Carolina, and no matter how much it changes, it will always be an important part of me.
So even though the Carolina I remember is now only in my mind, no matter what changes have occurred and are yet to come, Carolina will always be in my heart.