Friday, August 24, 2012

Rrecollecting life in Anderson Hall: grieving and a sense of completion

For the past several days, I have been reading past blog postings as I consider whether or not to compile a selection in some sort of publication.  Even if this still nascent project does not bear fruit, the work is providing intrinsic rewards.  It brings back memories of days when I viewed the experience of dorm living with fresh eyes and more than a bit of trepidation. 
A sampling of titles recalled the diverse topics I wrote about:  my role as university teacher, university administrator and public policy commentator; the context of campus living, student-parent relationships and many more. 
Among the titles of my favorites, in the two year span have reviewed so far were these:
·      “Seizing the moment” – how finding a scholarship for a political refugee changed my life.
·      “Aging, death and dying in Sri Lanka” – describing how two old friends living in a developing nation are coping with the ravages of aging
·      “Reflections on social change evoked by my recycled shopping cart” – a critique of naively optimistic expectations on the part of US policy makers for effecting social change in Afghanistan and Iraq.
·       “I am chosen” – about my new granddaughter, recently adopted from India
·      “Gifts of love from parents to children” – about patience and good will during “moving-in” rigors at the beginning of the academic year.
·      “Is it a platonic date or an oo-oo date? – reflecting on a snippet of conversation heard on the Letts-Anderson Quad.
·      “Learning about “T” Ball in Hume Virginia” – How a fun, mutually affirming and non-competitive ball game for 7 and under children in rural Virginia contrasted with turgid, pretentious, deliberations of the National Commission on Electoral Reform held at AU (not to mention the current Presidential campaign!)
Reading the postings also made me sad.  I loved my life in Anderson hall and this experience has reminded me of how much I miss it:  the dinners, the teas, the many impromptu conversations with students, even handing out candy during fire alarm evacuations.  Had I not chosen to spend more that half the year in Singapore, I probably could have continued my active Dormgrandpop role, even if I was no longer teaching at AU.
But I was also reminded of one of my mother’s many aphorisms:  “always leave the stage while the audience was still applauding.”  Better to bid farewell at a time when I could easily have remained than, perhaps, to be asked to move out a few years later.
One of my favorite A.E. Houseman poems comes to mind, this evening.
Into my heart an air that kills, from yon far country blows
What are those oft remembered hills, what spires, what farms are those.
That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain.
The happy highways where I went and never can go again.

Labels: , , ,


Anonymous Eric said...

Thanks for the dinners John. I miss them too. Anywhere to get Sri Lankin curry in NOVA?

9:18 PM  
Blogger dormgrandpop said...

Hi Eric and thanks for the response. If you drive out the Lee Highway in Arlington towards Falls Church you will see, in the vicinity of Glebe Road on the right hand side of the street a row of shops that seems as if it was trasported from Delhi or Colombo. I buy mi spices there (at the Bangla Bazaar). I have not eaten there but there are at least two restaurants I have noticed and I should imagine the curry would be both authentic and moderately priced.

5:29 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home