I spent the weekend before last in an all-too-familiar building: 89 Chestnut Street.

During the summer when most students are away, the building partially resumes its historical function as a hotel. At 100 dollars per night, it’s one of the most affordable hotels in downtown Toronto. It’s a steal, assuming you’re not looking for anything luxurious. Since both me and the fine woman I was staying with were former residents, we knew exactly what to expect from the place.

What I didn’t expect was how difficult it would be.

I figured we’d get in, reminisce a bit about old times, and then carry on with our lives as we would in any other hotel.

Instead, every memory from that one glorious year came flooding back all at once. And I couldn’t escape it. Everywhere I looked brought back something new. Every chair, every desk, every bed carried with them a hundred flashbacks. I really struggled to hold it together.

I’m not sure exactly why it was so difficult. These were good memories. These were the best memories I own. Revisiting them should have been pleasant, not painful.

It just felt wrong being there without the dozen or so people who gave me the greatest year I’ve ever had. Even though everything looked just like it did four years ago, it didn’t feel the same. Every time I turned around I half-expected to see a friendly face, but the only one in sight was the person who’d accompanied me.

The sheer emptiness of the hallways was a sharp contrast to 2010-2011, when you could count on there being a large group of people sitting in the hallway at any time of day or night. It served as another reminder that those days are gone forever.

Crazy at it sounds, I don’t think I’m completely at peace with that fact yet. I think it’s because nothing has ever filled the void left by the end of that glorious year. Floor 12 itself filled the void left by the end of high school’s Period Two Spare, and Period Two Spare in turn filled the void left by the end of elementary school’s lunchtimes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had plenty of good times between 2011 and now. But nothing has managed to fill that rather large gap yet. I haven’t found That One Special Thing again, yet.

Here’s hoping that this will be the year. It’d be nice to get to a place where I can pass by that building and enjoy the happy memories without being hit by an overwhelming feeling of loss.