I’m feeling quiet today, reflective, reticent.
This blogging challenge is to blame, I’d wager. I’m swimming through old waters, my toes are bound to stir up some silt.
Yesterday, after writing about a portion of my community college experience, I found myself on that campus, waiting to hear a friend of mine read poetry from her prize winning chapbook. She worked hard and deserves some praise.
Full disclosure: I knew I was going to be on campus when I wrote yesterday. Thinking about my own time at school was inevitable. I was good to write about some of it. I was not however, ready for the rush of emotions I encountered before, during, and after the reading.
The reception and ceremony took place in a building that did not exist when I was a student. It is a beautiful space, and as I walked through it, by classrooms where evening students were being taught, I couldn’t help but wonder where two decades had gone. I was overcome by something I did not expect- Awkwardness. I felt out of place in a place I never felt out of place. I tried to keep composed, but I was suddenly sweaty and hyper-aware of everyone around me.
The reading was beautiful (even if I thought the poetry judge took a bit too much time reading from her own chapbook), and it reminded me of so many other readings, author events, academic lectures, I had attended. My friend was appropriately nervous and grateful. Her tiny smile made me laugh, and while I remained uncomfortable, I didn’t let that diminish my enjoyment of her success.
After the reading ended, I said my congratulations, grabbed a hug and a cookie and went for a walk.
The campus has changed. Different faces wander the sidewalks and sit in the classes. The trees are taller in some locations, noticeably absent in others. Entire sections of the campus are redesigned, and the old Administration building has been razed, replaced by a vast green space.
I did not recognize the Quad at all. The comfortable and inviting space I once knew is gone. In its place, something sterile has grown out of the concrete. I know I sound like the bitter and confused middle age man I am, but it was sad for me to see.
R is for recursive
I turned to walk back to my car, ready to leave this altered place behind when I saw them. They weren’t the first I’d encountered on my walk, but they stood out. Students, four of them, coming out of a building where I had also once attended class. I did not see myself in them, or my friends in the others. Three women, one man walked towards the Student Center, backpacks over their shoulders, finished for the evening, or perhaps taking a break between courses. They are going places, walking paths I never will, but were starting the journey in a similar place. Seeing them made me feel better, less out of sorts and out of touch. I left smiling.
Things come and go, places change as well as people. Still, there is a continuity, a returning loop that continues outward and onward, and that pleases me more than I can say.
As I’m editing this, I learn that Prince is dead. Too many icons gone too young. This year needs to stop.