The Old Campus

Posted: April 21, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

I finally took my first bike ride of the year. I headed south on the familiar trail, not sure how far I planned to follow it. Somewhere between home and the park full of memories from the near-decade I’ve spent in this city, I decided I wanted to go visit the old campus.

A year and a half after my college graduation ceremony, the university announced it intended to close that campus at the end of the school year. The transition left a bitter taste in many people’s mouths, and for several reasons the school’s attempts to create some kind of home base for alumni never could really make me feel all right about it all.

I worked security for a couple years there after the campus’s closure, and whether because of this or in spite of it, I haven’t really looked at the place in the same way — not since the first couple of shifts when I walked through the dorms and apartments where I had once lived. The mixed feelings gave way to a sort of numbness as I dissociated what I saw from the memories I had made there. The campus stood empty, then became a sort of mixture of office buildings and private park open to the community. On a Sunday evening like this, and perhaps especially on Easter, I ran little risk of running into anyone I knew; on such a beautiful day there might be people from the neighborhood playing baseball or hanging out on the soccer field, or the campus might be deserted altogether.

There were only a couple kids cycling in the parking lot when I arrived; the soccer field was empty. I dismounted and walked my bike down to the bleachers, where I sat for a little while. Aside from the trees cut down because of the emerald ash borer, it almost looked the same. I’ve seen the campus many times since it changed, of course, but I hadn’t really looked at it, not to see it for itself, in some time. It’s been many things to me over the years, I suppose. It’s what brought me to this town in the first place — the college. There in the sunlight, I remembered it for that semi-forgotten facet of what it is: another vacant “home” I once had in this city that is no longer there for me. It’s become something else now.

It’s a very dynamic thing, the way the place has changed, and I can appreciate that. Yet, I do also envy a little the people who haven’t been so disabused of their ideas about the permanence and stability of such human institutions. Sometimes, when something we want to remain the same just doesn’t, we view that dizzying tilt away from the static and toward the dynamic as a failure. I understand that; at times I see it that way in my own life. It’s a natural reaction to the vertigo, perhaps. Still, the balance between stable/static and dynamic forces is always in the process of being struck, and that can mean some fluctuation and resultant messiness along the way. It doesn’t always fit into the neat dichotomy of “success vs. failure.”

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