Sometimes I want to think that college is an ivy covered campus with Professors clad in tweed, surrounded by youth that have just walked purposefully out of an Ambercrombie Catalog.

But that's just a myth.

This morning college is an unsuccessful trip for coffee before class, the excitement of a lecture by an admired colleague, and together with him the hope of inspiring and connecting with a room full of motivated and gifted young students.

The sidewalk is worn smooth and covered with countless random splotches of bird poop. Old and new deposits gone dry chalky white, and I step around them so I don’t track the poop dust into the building.

There's no ivy here, but the sun wiggles through the trees throwing dancing leafy shadows on the red brown bricks. It’s a different campus face than one might envision. A different college place.

I think it’s beautiful.

It’s old and new at the same time, the shadows moving over the textured bricks like all of us moving along the path that was presented to us. Here we are. And here will do just fine.

The branches in the trees move in the wind and make a sound that we all know but I just can’t find a word for. But that sound is so important, so much a part of me. Maybe because it’s the same wherever I am, and that makes me OK wherever I am.

The heavy institutional door cha-cha-chuffs closed behind me silencing the sound of birdsong and passing cars, those sounds replaced by the hiss of the giant HVAC unit and my footfalls.

I immediately begin to count my steps. I’ve done it all my life. I think it’s because I’m afraid of the destination, and the counting occupies my mind while I approach the door.

As the students file in I feel the quiet and it makes me anxious. How many steps was it from the outside door to this door?

I hope for conversation, but they all file to their seats and engage their phone instead of one another. Maybe they couldn't find coffee either.

Right now I miss the smell of oil paint, ceramic kilns, and burning wood coming from the studios.

All I have is my breath in my mask.

But it's a start.

~ David Flynn
May 19, 2021