Nothing drives home the "life-long student" status like calling a university campus "home." But honestly, when I made a brief sojourn to the University of Somewhere Else today, it felt like going home. Honestly, it's as much as a home to me as anywhere else. It's been almost a decade since I left Where Else, Blank is still too new, and I never stayed at any of my actual homes in Somewhere Else long enough to really make them feel like a "home." (Ok, the previous sentence makes absolutely no sense unless you know where Where Else, Blank, and Somewhere Else refer to. Oh, the price paid for anonymity.)
So anyway, the university campus gets a "home" designation. I went over to campus today to have lunch with some old English grad friends--which was great--and to take out some books via the national library agreement, which was less great, but also less of a hassle than I was fearing. I also took the opportunity to just walk around campus a bit, which was tres weird--like I was tourist looking at scenes of my past. I wrote about this more extensively in a short piece called "the Couple" ("Person of Consequence! You can't put in a plug for an unpublished work! " "Oh, can't I? That sounds like a challenge to me!" "No, I mean, there's no point... you know what? Never mind."), but it's amazing how much a person's life--by which I mean this Person's life-- can be influenced by the people they run into on a daily basis. I don't even mean friends and family; I mean just the people you see on a regular basis, and never talk to, never approach, and never really know at all. These people become a part of my personal context; just by being there, they contribute to my sense of familiarity. It's like a nice warm blanket of sameness.
Sadly, this being December, most of the actual students are busy studying, so they weren't around to contribute to my personal people-blanket. (Very selfish of them.) The people at the library provided enough scraps to make a few quilt patches, the students who were present provided the design, and, as always, my friends were the threads that bind the whole thing together. (Awwwww.)
Arts and crafts aside, it was fun to return to the alma mater, and I think that the books I found finally gave me a solid approach to my paper. But here's hoping that future ventures in the next week feature more of the friend side of the equation than the work side.
Oooh! Almost forgot. No trip down nostalgia lane would be complete without a brisk trot through lunch at the campus restaurant. And however much anything else has changed, their student bargain-priced grilled cheese is EXACTLY how I remember. If the campus is a quilt, then that restaurant is definitely a... signature stitching form? A matching throw-pillow? A ketchup stain in the upper right corner that draws the eye?
...I think think this metaphor has gotten away from me.