Last night Clay and I went out to eat and then decided to go to a movie, but we had an hour to waste, so I said, "Hey, drive through campus."
The students haven't returned from break yet, so the campus buildings were mostly dark and desolate. As we drove by the architecture building, Marvin Hall, and the art and design building, more commonly known as the A&D building I said, "Hey, think it's open? Let's go look around."
Sure enough, Marvin Hall was open. It's always open. I don't remember a time that I wasn't able to get into that building and I entered it at all kinds of unspeakable hours.
Clay and I roamed the dark halls of Marvin Hall, then we crossed over the bridge, which is called The Bridge because it links Marvin Hall to A&D and houses the computer labs. We peaked in the lab and saw one weary looking student working at a computer. "Man, how many hours did I spend in that room?" Clay said in a whisper.
I looked at the ledge that runs under the windows along the wall where I'd spent hours sitting and studying. I looked out the darkly tinted windows on the bridge, but only saw our reflections. There we were the two of us standing in the bridge. The architectural element that connects two buildings, links together two creative and artistic training centers. The bridge that brought us together. It's the place we would meet to eat lunch, read the paper, take a nap or cross over to visit the other in their studio.
We walked across the bridge and into the A&D building. I walked by my old studios. The familiar smells of wood, foam, paint, glue, charcoal and paper lingered in the air from the projects that were probably locked away in dorms and apartments or frustratingly tossed in a dumpster. All the caustic chemicals I used to inhale while building a model, it was so long ago.
I saw the name of one of my favorite professors on a door. I thought he was so amazing. He taught me how to think about design more thoughtfully, how to think through a process, to make something with care. His words mesmerized me. I was shy and intimidated around him. During the time I was in his class I got so stressed out about the model I was building that I threw it across the shop and it splintered into a thousand pieces. Guess who came in the door right as I was throwing my fit? Not the professor, but Clay. He helped me clean up the mess and glue all the stupid little pieces of balsa wood back together. That model was chosen by my professor to be placed in the presentation cases to be viewed by all the A&D students.
The next year I didn't have the same professor, but his office was across from the shop that I practically lived in to build all my projects, so I saw him quite a bit and talked to him on occasion. During that year I had a terrible bike accident while I was riding home from Clay's dorm. I basically removed all the skin from the left side of my face, shoulder and thigh. I looked like I'd been beaten. I couldn't stay home from school, because I had a project due, so as usual I was down in the shop, building whatever design project I was working on at the time. The shop was crowded with busy students and I was trying not to attract attention to my disfigured face, but it was pretty impossible. I was sore, tired and wanted to go home and hide. I looked up from my project and saw Clay at the door. We walked out in the hall and shut the door to mute the noises of students, saws, drills and sanders. Clay gently wrapped his arms around my sore body, kissed the top of my head and asked how I was doing. Still wrapped in Clay's embrace I heard the door behind us open, it was my old professor coming out of his office. He had seen me earlier and knew I had been in an accident. He looked at us and said in the sweetest voice, "Oh, that'll make it feel better." then he walked through the door to the shop.
So many memories were flooding my mind. We continued to walk down to the sculpture and ceramics studio. Clay had taken a ceramics class the summer after graduation to fulfill one last art credit that he needed. I remember carrying our baby girl into that studio to watch him finish some assignment he had.
I looked at the plaster mixing area and was reminded of the hours I spent mixing plaster for a "love seat" that I made when Clay and I were engaged. I spent days applying tile to it. It was so heavy I had to build it on a cart so I could move it around while I was working on it. It took four men to move it. A few years later, we took a baseball bat and broke it to bits so we wouldn't have to move it again.
How different my life would have been if I wouldn't have change my major second semester of my freshman year. How different Clay's life would have been if he would have sent his application in on time and not had to come to school a semester late causing him to fill his studio hours with Drawing One where, "I saw a leggy blond walk in late, stick her butt out to sit on the bench and yowsa, I knew then I was going to make her mine."
Walking through those halls with my husband I had no regrets, no yearnings to be back in that place. We walked back towards the bridge holding hands. So much has changed over the last nineteen years. I would never have guessed this would be our life. The two young struggling people that sat on that bridge talking about their future nineteen years earlier had no idea they would be walking over that bridge the parents of four children, him a successful architect, her a stay at home mom. I caught our reflection in the windows again as we passed by, those two people they're not much different, older, wiser, fatter, calmer but who would have guessed, more in love.