A Theatre of Memory

A few years ago, Karen and I were on vacation, and she took me on a tour of her alma mater. I remember that being the most special of times, because seeing where she had studied and grown as a woman during those formative years helped me to know her better. I loved hearing her adventures and tales of that time of her life.

This past weekend, we were visiting family out of town, and I decided spontaneously, as our anniversary fell on the weekend and because we were in easy driving distance to my own alma mater, to return the favor. Off we went for the quick tour.

Oh, how that campus had changed! I have read about various changes in the alumni magazine, of course, but to see the changes for myself…which were so drastic that I had difficulty navigating around the campus in the car…was simultaneously wonderful and disquieting. New buildings existed, and locations that I thought that I remembered (like the student center) had been re-located to the new buildings. Streets had been turned to sidewalks, and hillsides to streets. Then, however, I found our way back to the fine arts building…the building in which I essentially lived for most of my four-year education. The fine arts building was notoriously confusing, and we used to joke that one would occasionally find the skeleton of a freshman that never made it out. All that said, though, I found my way around it with ease. And, while were on an unofficial visit and thus couldn’t get access to the main theatre stage on which so many of my designs came to fruition, or to the studio theatre where I directed my first scene, the memories of that building were overwhelming. I learned theatre there, as I learned other disciplines.

Moreover, I learned life there.

Beyond the blissful nostalgia, though, is a forward-looking effect of considering where our daughter might go to school one day, what disciplines she will study, and what career(s) she will choose. This is so important to think about, because my four years at that school shaped my perspectives and my life in so many ways, just as Karen’s four years at hers shaped her…and yours shaped you.

One of the major changes that have occurred at my alma mater is that the technology building adjacent to the fine arts building has received a complete make-over. I love that the two have always been connected, there…literally connected, as in a hallway from one building opens into the other. Many of my fellow theatre students (mostly scenic design students) would migrate over periodically to take architectural design courses. I love how the arts and technology meld together…you know, interdisciplinary studies again. This is really important to me now, because it is shaping an upcoming move and career change, as well as future research interests.

I want our daughter to have a lucid connection between things in this way, to see life holistically, not in compartmentalized fragments…something I have learned to do myself all too recently, and that I wish that I had done all along.

Being a father has taken my looks backward at life, and pointed them forward in an odd and interconnected way. It’s still sort of strange, honestly, but I’m loving every moment of it.

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