Every Sunday a man walks the campus of memory. He passes tall impersonal-looking buildings, and sometimes flowers, or squirrels foraging. He remembers being happy here—learning, discovering, putting the world in order thanks to books and professors. It is here he developed values and beliefs that have lasted the better part of a lifetime.
But, in particular, he is attracted to, gravitates toward one window in a low, one-story building. The story is of himself and his parents one Saturday long ago. His folks had come to see him married and he had brought them here to his adopted home—the u. The tour led that warm May afternoon to this building for a break in that busy pre-wedding day.
Just within the glass doors were pop machines, and his parents had coffee and sat at the only wooden table, oblong and chipped, sitting off to one side of the strangely dark vestibule. Then, as today, the lights were turned off and they sat in the shadows, laughing and enjoying their last afternoon together.
Over the years he has returned to this spot to find his parents and that happy moment, but the table is long-gone, though the shadows have remained.
Down the hall he walks slowly until he comes to a little alcove which looks onto an inner courtyard. In the centre is a long rectangular pool covered with snow. He gazes at the pool and imagines the garden as it is in summer. The fountain bubbling and excited sparrows flitting into the spray. The morning sun barely clearing the far end, illuminating a small corner of the courtyard.
Wind whips the snow around crazily. He wishes he had a key to the garden and could get in. Or could turn the seasons to spring again when the doors are left unlocked for students to pass through or to sit on the courtyard benches talking or smoking between classes.
His life, the remembered past, comes down to just this–a snow-covered courtyard to which he is denied access. A moment greatly unappreciated by the many who roll over in their December beds, oblivious to the possibility of all this–of secrets and inner life.
A recollected moment of being and the later facsimile presence of that. Many moments of being get shared, but some remain private, except those shared through writing. (For anyone who’s been to U of A–the old v-wing–had its own strange character and charm.)