I pulled into the underground parking lot and found a space with ease. The trip down from New Hampshire was smooth, though my sense of direction was not. Everything looked different. New businesses and construction confused me and I ended up driving out of my way to get where I was going. I was already feeling disoriented when I exited the parking garage and went up the elevator to a quad area. Simmons actually has a real campus now with buildings for the different schools connected by an outdoor area. A shiny new building greeted me for my conference across the way. It was clean, light, and full of glass. "Wow! This is MY school." I felt proud of the leaps my "little" school has taken in the past couple of decades. But I also felt a little old and disconnected. I realized that there was a definite generation gap between current students and my generation.
Having arrived early, I worked my way up to the library. It was basically my second home for one and a half years. I took an elevator up, admired the archives on display outside the information center and wandered in. Computers were everywhere, which was not unexpected. Comfortable sitting areas, clean tables, carpeting, and more showed off the best side of library science. Unlike MY Simmons library, this one comfortably combined resources for all of Simmons' schools. I wondered how students could really get the full impact of a cataloging class by sitting in such a cushy space. I was nostalgic for the hard tables and chairs surrounded by shelves of Library of Congress cataloging guides. I had a deja view moment when I passed a copier. Something was familiar. Was this part of the old design? (Having a lousy sense of direction and less than stellar spacial relation skills, I couldn't be sure.)
|Simmons College graduation day, 1993.|
Then, I reached it. I stood in the main entryway of the old Simmons building that I knew so well. It looked virtually the same. The old architecture greeted me with open arms. I felt markedly more relaxed and thought, "I'm so glad they left you intact." This was/is MY Simmons. This was the hall that held my memories and I could practically hear the voices of my generation beating from the walls. I welcome change, but I am once again reminded of the importance of memory and sense of place. They are so intricately woven into our sense of self. They are part of the thread of our history. Sense of place is a delicate thing. Markers reminding us of where we have been help ground us and let us walk confidently into our future.
I entered the lecture hall. I was ready to share what I could to help this new generation, with their new sense of place, to find their own confident stride.