Thursday, June 19, 2008

Campus wanderings

I was in Waco on Tuesday. I was about an hour early to teach my class at the Law School, and I found myself tracing old steps. I have been on campus many, many times since graduating over 20 years ago, but for some reason, Tuesday found me back in two buildings that I have not visited in decades.

First, I went to the Tidwell Bible Building, home of the religion department (which you could guess from the name) and the history department, one of my majors. I entered through Miller Chapel, and the first thing that struck me was the smell. It is not a bad smell, just a distinct one. There is nothing else on earth that smells like Miller Chapel at Baylor University. My college choir met in that room every week for years. I first flirted with Gena in that room. I think the last time I was in there was for Chris and Diane's wedding.

I left the chapel and wandered the halls on about five floors of the building. I had many, many classes there. I looked for names of professors I knew, and I found a few. I wish Dr. Beck had been in her office - I would have loved to say hi and complain about my Old Testament grade!

When I finally left Tidwell, I walked to what is now called Morrison Hall. Back in the day, it was Morrison Constitution Hall, and it housed the law school. With the advent of the new Law School building, Morrison underwent a much-needed renovation. After they cleaned out the asbestos and ran the last of the well-educated roaches out, they let the University Scholars and the Philosophy Department move in. No matter - I still heard the echoes of Professors Muldrow and Trail as I walked. I still felt the strange mixture of fear and awe that those halls always produced.

Then, strangely, I had to cut the nostalgia short so that I could go take my turn as a teacher. Yeah, they call even me "Professor" these days.

I wonder if, in a couple of decades, some lawyer will return to the then-aging Umphrey Law Center Building and hear echoes of a trial advocacy class taught by some adjunct ... what was his name? Rob-something?

I don't wish to go back to that age, and I am grateful for the many steps taken since then. Still, it was a good 45 minutes remembering smells and fears.

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