I just made Dash an appointment for an eye exam, because I noticed that he's holding the book very close to his face when he reads, and on questioning he said that he finds it hard to make out what's on the visualizer in school (I think this is the projector thingy that saves the teacher actually writing on the board). Genetically, glasses are highly likely if not inevitable, though I hoped the kids would manage not to need them for a few more years yet. However, it would be lovely if something as simple and fixable as that suddenly turned reading and writing from a chore to a pleasure for him, and I am now fantasizing that being able to see clearly would also make him so happy that The Rage would be a thing of the past and homework would be a breeze.
Just let me dream, okay? If he needs glasses, he'll get glasses, that's all. (Not like the last time.)
Meanwhile, what I was going to say...
Yesterday we had ocassion to go to the local high school, because they were offering free flu-mist vaccinations (the sort they squirt up your nose instead of an injection), and both the children needed them. I'd never been on the premises before, though I drove past it multiple times a day before we moved up the road to this house. In fact, I've never been in any American high school before.
I know high schools tend to be big, and this is a particularly big one, but I was still surprised by the memories that were kindled when we walked through the doors: not thoughts of my secondary school (grades 7 to 12), but instead a strong sense of the Arts Building in my alma mater, UCD. (That's University College Dublin, not the University of California at Davis or the University of Colorado, Denver.) Partly it was the size, but mostly it was the architecture: the late-1960s style and exposed brick made me feel that if I opened a door I'd be faced with not a classroom but a vertiginously terraced lecture theatre.
I loved the UCD Arts Block. (That's Liberal Arts, if you're American.) It was my place in the world from October 1991 till May 1995, when I left partly because I feared if I didn't go then I never would. I might have stayed, and done a master's in Spanish Linguistics, or English Lit, and ended up... well, an unemployed MA instead of an unemployed BA, I suppose. In the Arts Block, I could roam the halls with impunity and claim a sun-drenched low, wide windowsill to read in, or snooze in, or, if lucky and with boyfriend, canoodle in. From the overpriced Finnegan's Break (oh, har har) cafe to the orange lockers in the LGs, past Dramsoc at the bottom of the stairs and sashaying to the strains of the jukebox from The Trap, where those majoring in pool hung out, to giant Theatre L for my English lectures or an L&H debate on a Friday night, and upstairs again to the Modern Languages corridor where the secretary of the Spanish Department was never around if you needed her, I was on home ground.
There was a wooden set of sculptures in the middle of the building that people could sit on, or around, or arrange to meet up at. The first time I saw them they struck a particular chord, somewhere deep in my memory, and the informative plaque confirmed it: the piece is called Pangur Bán, by Imogen Stuart, and it was first displayed in Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centre in 1976.
When I was three and four years old, I had regularly climbed that very sculpture, peered through its low-down spaces, found the tiny mouse hiding in a corner, delighted in stroking its smooth, cool, dark wood and laying my cheek against it - and here it was in a new location, stirring my sense memories a decade and a half later. It felt like a special, personal discovery, linking me to this new place before I'd even arrived. (Me and every other student from South County Dublin, maybe. But I don't know if they all remembered it the way I did.)
I felt like a very obvious interloper if I ever ventured into the Engineering Building, I'd only been in Ag once, and Science - despite the fact that my father had helped design it, the ugliest building on campus (it was the 60s; they couldn't help it) - was just about somewhere I was allowed be once I was dating one of its number, but the Arts (and Commerce, I suppose, grudgingly) Block was mine.
I didn't realise how right I felt there until I was about to leave. Just standing between the double set of doors at the main entrance by the "Information" desk (I use the term lightly), I knew that I couldn't hold on to it - I had to move on and make room for the students coming after me. I had no grand plans for the future; I didn't really know yet what I'd be doing in September, but it was time to go. Closing a chapter, wondering where the next one would open.