Friday, May 25, 2012

Mother and Child Reunion

The mothers are pestering me. It’s a May thing, I guess.  No, not mine.  And no, surprisingly not  the crazy suburban ones that “man” the carpool line. And certainly not the overbearing Time magazine nipple-toting-a-college-freshman types. 

It’s those pesky Alma Maters.

They really know how to wear you down. Like real mothers, they have cornered the market on guilt.  Thanks, Moms.

In the past six months I have been hounded with emails, free Continuing Medical Education, hints on hotels, free child care, free concerts but surprisingly no free champagne like they handed out at the actual graduation. And, of course, hints on donations. Despite all the swag, I will not be going to my 25th Medical School reunion this weekend and doubt I will be attending the 30th College one next year.  Instead I will be co-hosting a local informal college one this fall. It’s not that I didn’t want to go to the Med School one, but life has gotten very complicated and it is just not the time.  It’s too bad, too, since I wonder if the old house I lived in on Benevolent and Brooks street is still standing despite its many negligent student tenants in the last 25 years.

It's those physical campuses that I miss most. Both wonderful academic havens/heavens under old growth trees. 

I loved my first real apartment in Providence.  It was an old carved-up Victorian .  A probable firetrap, but who really cared?  In your early twenties, you are invincible. Uninsurable too. And it was cheap. Only $295/month, which included utilities. How I got it, I have yet to figure out. I have benefitted so infrequently by dumb luck.  I think the housing department took pity on me as I flew out for a weekend and had exactly 48 hours to land housing.  The previous occupant was a sociology grad student, I remember, who commented disparagingly on how “I almost went to Chicago but the neighborhood was soooo bad.”  It was my first taste of Ivy League elitism. Nice.

Please don’t diss one of my ‘hoods, sista.

But, thank you for the extra keys!

I had the biggest air conditioner the window could hold and despite my concern for energy conservation, that baby was on continuously for all of those hot and humid Rhode Island summers.  The lights, too, I left on, even when I was in the library studying, or on-call as a student or my senior year job as a Surgical Assistant at Rhode Island Hospital or the Miriam Hospital. Such a rebel.

I had my cat there too. Mr. Cat was my near constant collegiate companion. Although I have had many cats after him, he will always be remembered for his grumpy behavior, his disdain for dormitory life and dormitory life's disdain for him, and of course his love of Chicken McNuggets. No wonder one of his co-morbid conditions was pancreatitis.

I used to love walking in that old College Hill neighborhood, too. The apartment was right next to the college radio station.  It was great as they discarded many vinyl “demos” in the large bin in the back.  And yes, I still have them in my LP collection. Down on Brooks to do laundry, down the hill to the old IGA with my squeaky shopping cart since I didn’t have a car until I pleaded with my Dad that taking two buses at 5am to get to Pawtucket alone wasn’t exactly safe. I loved those stately old Victorians perched above natural stone walls.  I loved walking to the old Med School building on Waterman or to Rhode Island Hospital over the river on cool nights, passing the amazing smells of a local Portuguese bakery.

I used to love walking in Hyde Park too. Many times I had to, since I missed the damn shuttle bus.  I would always go up 57th, then cross over to Woodlawn where other stately mansions graced the neat streets.  I would cross over to the park on 55th and see the many dogs playing in the field (my favorites were two yellow lab brothers, Bill and Henry), then to “Monoxide Towers” as an old resident head used to name the twin modern buildings that bisected the street.  Then it was home to a Grand Dame of an old hotel, a little seedy and smelly with scores of adolescents but still home.

I will have to visit, or revisit both soon. For real next time- not just in my head.

Instead I will focus my sites on an informal local college reunion in the fall.  It will satisfy a certain curiosity that everyone has as people age.  Do the people look the same?  Do they act the same?  Do they have interesting careers? Whom did they marry?  Did they have kids? 

And of course: Are they 500 pounds? I can’t hide my curiosity and I need all the incentive I can get to exercise and eat right.

Besides, medical school was a different beast.  You didn’t really live with those people.  Sure many of us were on-call together or studied together but you were older, and more focused. Right. The question I have with many of them is: Are they still dangerous?

So as I set my sites on the Fall Reunion and miss the festivities “under the elms” of either College Hill or Hyde Park, I will think fondly of my school days, on those beautiful campuses, whether it be on the East Side or of the Quads, the Gothic Architecture or the Early American Brick, libraries open 24 hours a day, the often odd but forever charming students and old Grand Dame of hotels or a fire-trap Victorians so long ago.

the course of a lifetime runs
over and over again.......

There will be other reunions. I am aiming for my fiftieth college in 2033 and med school in 2037.  Time to continue to exercise, eat right and finally lead a stress-free life.

It's only a motion away....

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