Natalia Temesgen

Temesgen’s family trip to an Ivy League graduation turns nostalgic

Somebody up there likes the Temesgen family.

We just took a 10-day, five-city Northeastern vacation and we all came back in one piece. Even better, no one got sick, all travel days went off without a meltdown and the positives far outweighed the negatives for all four of us.

It was a very nostalgic trip for my husband and I: we watched my sister graduate from Brown, which brought back college memories; we visited Boston for the first time since we moved from there to Columbus in 2013; we visited New York, where I lived before Boston; and spent a weekend in Princeton for our college reunion, the place where we met and became friends. Finally, we spent a night in the Maryland-D.C. area, Pete’s hometown, before heading home.

It was a slightly surreal experience at times. Walking through Princeton’s campus, I found myself looking at buildings with only a faint recognition of what they were. I spent multiple nights a week doing dance rehearsals in Dillon Gym, but as I passed it I had to ask Pete ... “That’s a gym, right?”

We went looking for an event at a building that I remember studying in semi-regularly as a student. I could completely picture the study space in my memory. I could smell the coffee in the cafe area and taste the cinnamon rolls that contributed to my Freshman 15. But as we walked across campus, I kept looking around and scanning for a sense of recognition.

“That’s it!” I said, but we entered a building that wasn’t the one we were looking for. We would walk along and soon enough, I’d say, “Oh, yeah! That’s it right there!” We’d walk for it, but it wouldn’t be right. I started wondering if I hallucinated even attending Princeton if I was having this much trouble finding a building. We refused to use a campus map. That would be ridiculous.

Finally, after misidentifying at least two more buildings, I found it. Pete was shocked. The building is called Chancellor Green and he had it set in his mind that it was an open, green space. He went to Princeton, too. I guess we’re just too far removed for our memories to even be relied upon.

In Boston and New York, memories of life before parenthood came flooding back. Pete and I dated in New York. He asked me to be his girlfriend at Grand Sichuan, a Chinese restaurant on St. Marks Place in the East Village. When we got engaged, I moved to Boston to be closer to him while he was a law student. We visited Portsmouth, N.H., on a whim one weekend. We went to Boston plays and experienced the nightlife as newlyweds.

But visiting this time, we had a couple of preschoolers in tow. Grand Sichuan has been closed since 2016. We only got to see a play because Grandma was on the trip, too, and she babysat for us. Instead of checking out old haunts, we visited the duckling statues in Boston Common and the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan.

It was different. But it was wonderful. New memories become good old days before we know it. So here’s to more fodder for nostalgia.

Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent contractor. Contact her at