Monday, November 15, 2010

Nostalgia: Dorm Edition, Avec Ma Belle Soeur

My classes are writing Proposing a Solution essays right now. Many of them select campus-related issues, and it never fails that every year I get plunged into nostalgia for my dorm years. I lived in one dorm all four years of college, in the same room for three, and had classes strewn about the Michigan State campus.
One essay in particular was about bike travel on campus; the student mentioned the lengths of walks to class here at BGSU, with the tops being about 20 minutes. MSU, of course, is giant in comparison, and I was reminded of my long hikes, particularly in driving snow and frigid temperatures (though not barefoot, uphill both ways). For instance, one term as a freshman I had to walk from my dorm, Mason Hall, to Wonders, clear across campus, which is about 1.15 miles according to a run mapping program (and if I'm remembering my route correctly). Then, I had to walk from Wonders to Brody, an additional .65 miles. After this, I had to walk back to Mason, which was about 1.35 miles (again, I had to guess at the route I would have taken, which may not have been the most efficient and may have even been longer). Sometimes, I recall, I shifted my route to avoid wind gusts, especially heading out to Wonders.
When you're walking with a backpack and early in the day (this was all before lunch), this takes you some time. I remember it took me about half an hour to get out to Wonders, 25 minutes on a good day, and an additional 15 minutes or so to get to Brody. Then it easily took me forty to forty-five minutes to get back to Mason, as they were quite literally at opposite ends of the campus. I'm a fast walker normally, but I definitely remember trudging in the winter, certainly not at top speeds.

In my mind for the last few days has been a very distinct memory of one such day. It was bitterly cold, and snowy to boot. I was wearing one of my giant wool sweaters. On my way back to the dorm, all I could think about was lunch, something hot from our good cafeteria (dorm food, and the way they pay for meals, here at BGSU is not so good--I was spoiled). I wouldn't even go to my room, but take my exhausted, hungry self and bag straight into the dining room. As I was scanned in, I noticed that my sister and her friends were seated at a table. If I was in the cafeteria today (although it doesn't exist anymore), I could show you exactly where they were: righthand side of the righthand long tables, between the pillars.
My sister and I lived in the same dorm for a year, one floor apart, I as a freshman and she as a senior (it was not considered unfashionable to live in a dorm the whole time you were at college, especially when you lived in a nice building like ours). Yet, we hardly ever saw each other. She and I had very different schedules. We very rarely ate together, especially since I was at dance classes all evening, right through normal dinner times. But for once, we ended up at the same place at the same time.
I was welcomed at their table. I remember specifically that I had clam chowder. My sister and her friends were very kind to me, asking me about how things were going and commiserating with my ridiculous walk. It was a few minutes' oasis in the middle of a busy day, and I have always been grateful for it, being accepted by senior honors students and treated like an adult and a friend.
I often think of that lunchtime when it is bitingly cold and windy here on my current campus, remembering how comforting the environment was, and wishing the same sort of warmth for my own freshman students.


Cloud of Secrets said...

Hmmh. I am glad I was part of such a happy memory, and sorry we didn't/couldn't make more of an effort to have mealtime get-togethers. It is strange that we didn't. I'd forgotten about your dance classes, though. Other than that, I suppose we were each growing our own lives and didn't feel the need to schedule meal appointments. I was often napping through dinner anyway, or doing sack lunches I'd made during breakfast due to tight-packed classes.

I believe my longest class walks were to Wells and Erickson, just across the river. I did everything in my scheduling power to stay on my side of the river. I only went to Brody for one of the free movie screenings, and dreaded the walk although it was with friends. I've always been thankful that mom sat herself down and waited so she could change my Brody Hall dorm assignment. I'd even written "Not Brody" on my housing request card and they totally ignored it. I didn't want to be out in the pre-Greek-rushing party towers at the far reach of campus!

Abs said...

I wrote No Brody also, and they did the same thing to me. Mom called and got it changed. I think they gave it to me favoring the honors floor in Bryan over my preferred choice of Mason. Uh, I'll take Mason any day, thank you!
We really did have wildly different schedules. I think that was a good thing--it made us appreciate it more when we did see each other. We were able to feel independent and not as though we were still in our house. I mean, I rarely saw Dad either, except at church. It was a good balance--help was there if needed, but we were able to explore life autonomously in a nice environment. I have always felt so lucky to have the college experience I had, especially while listening to all my freshmen complain about stuff!

hadjare said...

What a sweet story! I had no idea that you and Sarah went to the same college, much less at the same time for a while! Wow, that must have made your parents happy. I know I would be thrilled if Neeners and Morella went to the same school -- to have someone to fall back on, what a boon. Even if schedules were busy, you both knew each other was there.

Also, I haven't forgotten about your nice mention, I just haven't had a good chunk of time to sit and write it out. It's takes more time that 15 minutes to bang out something at the end of the day before bed, but I will get to it, even though I feel woefully out of my class.

I remember those long walks at the UW and how happy I was to get a bike from Goodwill that made things SO much easier.

Denise S said...

Reading your memories brought back nostalgia for my own college days on that same campus. My longest walk was a ridiculous Akers (where I lived) to Brody for a 9:10 am Honors English class my very first term. After that, my walks never seemed so long!
Elizabeth is going to live in Abbott next year and I know is looking forward to living with some architectural character. By the way, your mother just told me about her anti-Brody vigil for both you and your sister on my recent visit. Good for her!

Cloud of Secrets said...

Lucky Elizabeth! I'm aching with nostalgia right now. Can I be her guest for Sibling Weekend?

Anonymous said...

When I lived on campus, I had a bus pass one winter, partly because of an early morning class, even though it was often faster to walk. The riders at the various dorm pickups were silent and sullen at that hour of the morning, but when we swung around by Spartan Village, the married guys bounced on the bus with cheerful "good mornings" as if they'd been up for hours and were going somewhere terrific. One guy always had his bus pass pinned to his coat with a great big safety pin, like a kindergartener taking a note to his teacher from his mother. EAC

Abs said...

@hadjare--You're completely right. It was comforting to know there was someone to go to in cases of trouble!
@Denise--Tell Elizabeth to give my love to Mason-Abbott! I drive past it sometimes. I know it's a lot different. Also, ask her if they still have the leather red chairs--I want one, and I think they might get rid of them soon.
@EAC--Isn't it funny the people you remember, the people you see all the time, that have funny traits? I love that.

Anonymous said...

I'm here from Sarah's blog where she mentioned you were having a birthday. Happy birthday. I've become a follower.

Abs said...

Hi, Terri! Thank you! Welcome!

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