Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Back to School

Last weekend, after visiting Manhattan on Saturday, and staying with dear friends for the night in Pelham, we stopped by my alma mater, Fordham, for a brief visit. Usually when we go to the Bronx, I want to go to Mike's pizza, or Ann and Tony's for penne a la vodka, or Butchie's for their chicken sandwich. I love to walk through the Botanical Gardens, or visit the zoo, or walk up Fordham Road or Arthur Ave for a slice of local life. But this Sunday, in the dead of winter, after a very full day on Saturday, all I really wanted to do was walk through campus, and have brunch in the cafeteria, much as I would have twenty years ago.

I charmed the security guard with my true story of being an alum, wanting to visit and buy some Christmas gifts from the bookstore. He allowed us to park for free on campus. (Christmas miracle!) We walked through the biting wind, stopping for a picture in front of Keating Hall, and Daniel actually looked at the camera (miracle number two!) Walking into Keating, memories leapt out at me: the absolute confusion in Calculus, which I promptly dropped for an easier version; the glory of studying with Elizabeth Johnson, one of the premier feminist theologians of our time, as a freshwoman; her asking me to read one of my essays about gender aloud to the class; feeling sometimes slighted as a woman by the Jesuits; feeling enlivened by New York City - that anything was possible.

As we walked around campus I remembered writing for 'the paper,' the alternative campus newspaper, and that they asked me at the end of my freshman year, to be the editor-in-chief. I declined the honor, not wanting the responsibility, but I did keep writing. Looking back, it was good to remember that even then, I was a writer. That fact was obfuscated for awhile, but it has always been a part of who I am.

Brunch was pretty much the same, though they do have a gluten and nut-free station now. I told Carl how I had fought for vegetarian options in my day. Daniel had donuts, ice cream and frozen yogurt, which is probably how I ate when I lived there. "Is it possible to put on the freshman fifteen in one day?" asked Carl as he came back with his third plate of food.

The bookstore was closed, and though I didn't leave with any souvenirs, I did take home a clearer sense of myself, which is probably better than another Fordham t-shirt.