Friday, October 3, 2008
Wall of Fame Dismantled
Today I dismantled my Wall of Fame that has been housed in my office since 1996, loaded with funny Polaroids of some of my favorite old students that I will never forget and in many ways, changed my life. The shots are a little aged and ragged and most of these kids are married or even parents now but somehow, when I looked at that ramshackle bulletin board I built 13 years ago, it took me back to the days when New College was buzzing with loud, happy voices and students talking about everything under the sun. My office was the hub of New College back then and I loved every minute of it. Helping these kids was more than a simple job to me, it was a life force. I became close to many of them and welcomed new ones into our wonderful little community in the safe confines of Roosevelt Hall.
Those pictures are a representation of all my hard work, helping to guide, befriend and shape their lives in ways I could never imagine and didn't think possible. I have a million fears about making a commitment to be a parent but in many ways, I did just that with complete strangers, taking care of other peoples children while they were miles away from home.
I never planned on being a college administrator, it just happened. It's a long story but the quickie version is that my husband worked with someone at the Hicksville Library whose daughter was an administrator in New College. I was an employed writer working at IBM as an assistant bullshit artist, making no dough. She asked Vic if I needed a new job and to have me fax over my resume and cover letter. The rest is history my friends. I thought the job was going to be in the Registrar's Office, behind one of the God-awful Bursar windows, but instead, I WAS the Registrar of New College with my own office. I was so desperate to get out of IBM when I got hired, I packed up, lock stock and barrel and high tailed it out of there within a week.
I got married three weeks later and upon returning home from my honeymoon, I began my slow, upward journey to the holy land of academia. It was a place where higher learning meant something and faculty cared about their students. We really were a family back then and it was real I promise you, dysfunction and all. I miss it all the time. I thought it would last forever, but when a school closes and everyone is dispersed, it's more than sad...it's painful and deserves a proper burial. I still mourn its loss every time I speak to an old student or get a call from them, letting me know how they are. I'm sure they meant more to me than I to them, but I felt a part of what I thought would be a lasting community and when it ended, I felt like a president without a country to govern. I am still lost and am trying desperately to adapt to my new role there. I'm sure things will work out in the long term but I'll never forget all those kids that magically changed my life. I'll always wonder how they are and if their lives have turned out well. But, for now, I'll keep my pictures close at hand so I can revisit another special light and time in my life.