Tuesday, October 16, 2007

University of Evansville / Harlaxton College

The last few days have been rough for me. I have several periods throughout the year of SEVERE nostalgia (I am a sentimental moron). My college days were wonderful, I mean wonderful, I mean... did you hear me? I miss it. I miss the hard work, the close quarters, the smells, so many friends, recognizing people on campus even if you didn't know them personally who then became quasi friends just because you saw them so often. I even miss the opportunities I didn't take advantage of, the people I should've hung out with more, the places I didn't visit.... I have a disease and its communicable. Don't keep reading.

I especially miss Harlaxton, UE's campus in Grantham, England (and former WWII air base). It's been 10 years this past spring (1997), and that was--as it is for many who go there--the highlight of a lifetime. Mind blowing. Incredible. And that is no stretch, it is no cliche to say that. I'd give anything to be that kid again in England, even with all the naive, sheltered junk that came with him.

Right after Harlaxton, and after UE, I was the most depressed I'd ever been in my life. Coming back from Harlaxton, especially--a 4 month spring term--was like leaving my family for college: I cried and cried on the bus leaving the campus and moped for half the summer, but the following school year was incredible and the best of all four (I won 3rd place in the Big Man On Campus contest, but that's not the only reason why it was a good year). Leaving college was numbing; I'll never forget the walk from the dorm to my car, heading north on the interstate, knowing that'd be it. Forever. I thought grad school would make up for college in some way, but it didn't. Grad school pales in comparison. PALES. Maybe it should.

I wish I could get all my UE and Harlaxton friends together just one time--just one evening. I really miss them. It's incredible how so many ingrediants in a person's life come together just so (people, place, mentality, time), and something essential and fantastic and needed happens to us. Maybe I'm also missing who I became because of college, the process. I know I'm envious of my youngest sister soon to head off to school, and even my students. We live in shadows, necessary shadows, and this is one of mine. I don't know whether to shake it or embrace it. That's the nature of shadows, I suppose.

A blog or a web page is like a time capsule. It may be that months or years down the road one of my old friends--sadly misplaced in my life since graduation in 1999--may come across this. Maybe even a teacher, many of whom I enjoyed more than I let show (that's true for lots of people in my life). So, if you're someone I knew, even one of those strangers walking across campus as you went to chem and I went to english, get a hold of me, even just to say hello and leave it at that.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

Hi Benjamin, You sure sounded homesick for your college buds when you wrote this. I know this won't help your state of mind any but since you didn't get a comment from a college bud I thought I would write and say hello since I live about an hour fifteen minute drive from the University of Evansville, IN. That is as close as I can get to giving you a howdy from a college bud.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ben-Glad to see you're still writing--Harlaxton was wonderful and it didn't take long for me to realize that no one really ever understood when I rambled on about it. Remember walking on the city walls of York? Or just taking the bus to Grantham? I actually figured it was you before I saw your name--how many depressed poets did I know? So, have you ever written about it? About how when you looked out any window in the fog, you seemed to be surrounded by luminous grey-silver air that was alive? Or how the setting sun could turn the house and grounds into a glowing golden land--so much so that you wouldn't have been surprised to see Arthur and his court ambling up the naked mile for a visit? Now, I was never a poet but Harlaxton just brings it out of a person--no wonder Gregory Gregory spent his life building it. Got to go. I'm a high school English teacher now and expounding on Act 2 of Macbeth require all the sleep and concentration I can muster. It was nice to see your blog when I googled Harlaxton.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Sandy! Yes, I remember you! And had I turned on comment forwarding back in November I'd have replied here sooner! I'm not a depressed poet, c'mon--misnathropic, deeply connected to the world and thus moody. Screwed. Yes, no one understands when you talk about HArlaxton, but maybe that's as it should be--a deeply personal and profound time in one's life, to say the least, for most of us. I couldn't imagine teaching highschool kids--yikes, no thank you.

rjwb9688 said...

Hey Ben,

I got nostalgic and googled Harlaxton and came across this. Your name is familiar but I can't picture a face. Unfortunately I never received my yearbook from Spring '97. A fantastic place and wonderful memories. Humorously, it now has a MySpace. http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=58545271
Thanks for writing.
Ryan Black

Benjamin Vogt said...

Hey Ryan--I remember you. It took me a minute, and then I confirmed it with my yearbook (you might still be able to buy one from them, or at least get one of those blown up group photo posters--but if you can't find either, I could try and scan the group photo at least and send it). You know, I even remember who you hung out with at Harlaxton, even though it wasn't uber cliquey (didn't people call you "Jesus" or something? Am I imagining this? We WERE kids). You can find my photo easily by doing a google search, if you haven't already. I'm glad you left a note, and hope you are well!

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