Friday, November 7, 2008

A Piece of My Past

I never finished college. The second semester of my junior year, I left the campus. I didn't return until a couple years later--on a motorcycle run up the coast highway. I wandered the campus for about an hour with my riding partner (Ron, a family friend), and left feeling incomplete.
I still dream about school, and usually it involves familiar feelings of insecurity combined with nostalgia. The pressure I feel in those dreams always revolves around a deadline I have allowed to lapse, and a yearning for completion. The details of dorm life, the beautiful campus, Sunday evening Vespers, chapel requirements, and even the dining commons all flood my memory banks when I reminisce about Westmont.

I even miss some things: friendships with roommates and fellow resident advisers, endless hours of class in the English department, and exploring Santa Barbara. The world was at my fingertips when I was living on that campus, and I didn't even know it.
I had everything I needed within walking distance: a 3 story library, an after hours "cafe," serene landscape and beautiful architecture, a theater, a pool, 2 chapels, a P.O. box, a shuttle service, lectures and discussion on every type of writing imaginable, fascinating professors, small classrooms, spiritual guidance, weekly guest speakers, and a social life. I often wonder what life would be like today had I seen this through to the end. I know I certainly was a different person way back when, with a lot of maturing to do and a soft outer shell. If I could do it all again as the "me" I am today, would I?

Heck, yes! Just let me take my babies with me on campus, or provide me with a qualified nanny to follow me around from class to class. There's enough grassy areas, foliage, footpaths and the occasional fountain or pond to keep them entertained all day long. We could picnic together at lunch time, and I'd hit the library after their bed time. Definitely do-able.

Why all this talk about college? I discovered a former roommate's blog. She was my first roommate in the Clark Hall dorm my freshman year, and we were worlds apart on the maturity scale. We stayed in touch, and have probably broken some phone tag records--it can go a year or two before we get back to each other. Voice mails have been our primary form of communication, in which we are informed of marriages, babies, etc. As I have just discovered her blog, our level of communication has been instantaneously upgraded. We have not seen each other since college. One of these days, perhaps...? Until then, I am loving her extraordinary writing.

Also, I got a chai latte at Starbucks (first time in a long time). There was a quote on that paper cup by a Noah benShea, author of Jacob the Baker and The Word (both excellent books). I met him during a Jewish Lit course with Professor Cook (one of my favorite professors). I remember hanging out after class with another student in the tiny English department "lobby," discussing with Mr. benShea his journey as a writer. He answered all our questions and signed our copies of his books. That was just one of the unique experiences that college provided.

All Westmont campus photos courtesy of


twigg said...

Jen! It is so fun to have this as a way of getting to know you again...perhaps one day we really will talk...but it is so great that you are writing here and sharing your existence. I looooooove it. Your babies are beautiful, and I am thrilled to have a tiny peek into your life. And you should take credit for getting me on here--it was in one of our info-voicemails that you steered me to your blog, which caused me to get with the program and start my own!! Thank you!
love, jessie

Mel said...

Hi there, I guess you didn't know it but I was "this close" (place forefinger and thumb really close) to going to Westmont College. What a great campus and how wonderful to know that you went there!