Sean and I have been doing university tours all summer. Not that it’s going to make a difference, because he’s already decided where he’s going and why, but we’re at least going through the motions of “making a choice”. We’ve been to University of Ottawa, U of Waterloo, Wilfred Laurier, and yesterday we romped around my own alma mater, McMaster.
He didn’t say, but I think I impressed him by being able to take him directly to the building we needed without checking a map. And that was after discovering that none of the parking lots were still where I’d left them 30 years ago when I graduated! They have been replaced with new buildings, and we ended up parking in an underground lot beneath the football field! How clever!
There has been a lot of growth and development at Mac over the years, but it is still the same comfortable campus I loved. University Hall is still covered in ivy, Mills Library is still intimidating, and Burke Science Building is still way too far away from the arts quad. Yeah, there’s a story behind that one. As an arts student, I spent the majority of my time in two buildings so you can imagine my surprise when I got my timetable at the beginning of third year and discovered one of my classes was in “BSB”. What the heck? BSB???? What’s THAT? I did figure it out, and I found it, but it was a pain to have to scamper all the way over there from the arts quad!
At the end of our tour we headed back to the car. Our route took us through the arts quad. Of course it did. On impulse I dragged Sean into the lobby of Togo Salmon Hall. (yes, that really is its name) I pointed at three metal chairs and a table in a corner.
“See those chairs? That’s where my friends and I spent much of our free time in first year. I swear, they are the same chairs, just painted.”
He nodded politely.
“And the elevator. There’s a story behind that elevator.”
He looked at me, obviously humouring me.
“When I was in first year English, one of our assignments was to write a sonnet. Yeah, a sonnet. I thought this was a singularly dumb assignment. I mean, seriously, who writes sonnets anymore?”
“So I had a brilliant idea. I was sitting there watching the elevators open and close and I decided to write a sonnet about an elevator.”
Sean was listening now, incredulous.
“I called it ‘Ode to an Elevator’, and much to my surprise, I got a really good mark on it!”
Sean laughed, and as we headed out the doors he asked if I wanted a photo with my elevator. He told me my story would make a great blog post, and I should include a photo of me with my elevator. I laughed it off, telling him not to be silly, and we left.
In retrospect, I should have listened to my son. I am feeling rather wistful that I didn’t pause long enough for him to take that photo. It would have been the perfect accompaniment for the first stanza of that sonnet, which is unfortunately all I can remember. Although I guess remembering even ONE stanza after thirty-odd years is pretty impressive……
“Oh thou lofty metal box,
He sits to watch thee rise.
And knows not how, thy door – it locks!
However hard he tries.”