I rode my Genuine Buddy scooter to campus. I parked in A2 by Tracy Hall. I stowed my helmet, retrieved my mask, and walked toward Shepherd Union. I greeted two people, our neighbors, who appeared to be returning to their car after a walk through campus. I followed the sidewalk between Tracy Hall and Elizabeth Hall, around Stewart Bell Tower, and through the plaza to the east doors of the second floor entrance. I used my ID to open the door. I used the numbered key pad to access the Center for Community Engaged Learning. I used my key to open my office, SU 324A. I turned on the lights.
I returned a box of pens, pencils, and Engaged Faculty Retreat evaluation forms to Natalie’s shelf. I collected a Canine Companions for Independence calendar, last year’s annual report, and a folder of strategic planning materials. I packed the “Nevertheless She Persisted” picture that Christie gave me in January. I looked at the objects on my shelves: three photos (graduation photos of Jake and Maggie and a closeup of me & Dave in Norway), three figurines that Maggie gave me for Christmas (a Buddha, cat, and dragon), two snow globes (Las Vegas and Portland), magnets, a vial of sand from Japan that Chrissy gave me, two bobble heads (a dog and Data), an empty tin of mints from Colorado, several magnets with photos of Borrego Springs, two magnets from the National Gallery of Art, and a “Kindness Matters” magnet.
I turned off the lights. I closed the door. I followed the sidewalk back to the parking lot. I didn’t say hello to anyone. I replaced my mask and put on my helmet. I drove around campus, stopping at the duck pond and turning off at A9 by the construction of the welcome center. I drove up the hill. I turned right onto Taylor Avenue and left on Country Hills Drive. I passed Beus Pond. I entered the roundabout. I took the second right to continue onto Country Hills. I turned right onto Bona Villa Drive and left onto Ross Drive. I pulled into the driveway and shut off the ignition.
I wanted to write about the shoulder season: when the tourists haven’t yet arrived, when the locals have the park, the town, the landscape to themselves. Like campus yesterday. The time between semesters, when students haven’t yet returned, when staff and the occasional faculty member have campus to themselves. The sounds of nature resume. A hush falls over a place that typically teems with crowds, voices, music, bells. I remember Bryce Canyon in April and October–cold, empty, still. The before; the after. The in-between times. I could stay in that space forever, I thought. I longed for that feeling. I retreated to Torrey in an attempt to capture it. Away, by myself, apart.