Yesterday was gorgeous outside–55 and sunny–and we took baby out in her new stroller to walk around Campus Lake. Toward the end of the loop, we took a detour into the actual campus–on the sidewalk in between buildings–with budding college students swirling around us.
A surreal and bittersweet feeling came over me. It blows my mind that I still live here, that I’m walking my daughter on this campus, that I’m using the word daughter.
I moved to Carbondale when I was 18, the August after I graduated from high school. I had an incredible 4.5 years of film school with an army of friends all around me. It was my own personal 1960s: extensive debauchery and avant-garde art. Finding that right mix of collegiate intellectualism and barbaric partying. Sipping tea and listening to NPR after a night of naked keg stands; watching Stan Brakhage and Maya Deren films on mushrooms; eating sushi and discussing bell hooks before using change to buy 40s. A simultaneous refinement and abandon.
I did leave this town for a little while after graduation, but before too long the lure of performance studies called me back. And what I thought would be two more years of the same turned into seven years of something completely different.
I mean, some parts were the same.
But I had no idea that I would complete not just a masters, but a PhD*; that I would grow so much as an artist; that I would give up drinking (2 years + 5 months so far); that I would spend six years (and counting) with the man I would marry; that I would grow a baby, birth her, and walk her around on the very campus that I grew up on.
Life is full of surprises.
I have never personally purchased or worn a piece of SIU merchandise, but I think I’m going to pick up a onesie or two. Lydia doesn’t know it yet, but this campus is an important part of her story.
*note: I don’t have a PhD quite yet, but I defend my dissertation in less than a month!