Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen


I get a Gustavus alumni newsletter via e-mail, so this popped up in my inbox this afternoon:
Alumni are invited to attend a decommissioning service for Wahlstrom Hall on Saturday, May 28 at 2:45 p.m. Wahlstrom Hall will be razed this summer.

I feel like I should go, because it was my home for four years, and its creaky, cranky, claustrophobic walls got to me, and I loved it there and fell in love and did all sorts of other wonderful things there, and people who loved something ought to see it go if it has to go. And much though I have had some "issues" with Res Life at Gustavus, I can't work up much of a head of steam to say they should keep Wahlly World. It was a wreck when I lived there. It's likely still a wreck. You're allowed to love things that are a wreck.

(Good thing for most of us, at one point or another.)

The thing is, when the tornado took Johnson -- yes, it all comes down to the tornado. Of course it does. What else would it come down to? It was one of those events that divided the world into "before" and "after," and I hate saying, "if you weren't there, you just don't get it," about anything at all, because it's my job to get you to "get" things you couldn't possibly have been there for, but -- if you weren't there, you just don't get it. Anyway, when the tornado took Johnson, they pretended it had meant nothing and didn't exist. You couldn't even tell where it had been a year later, and I don't think Res Life had any understanding at all of what had unified Johnson Hall residents, why they weren't just some random group of people. I think they deliberately avoided that understanding. So I'm worried about what they'll do after. I'm worried that they'll try to abstract out all the wrong things about it.

I stuck kana flashcards and Dylan Thomas poems to the bathroom walls. I scribbled who knows how many whiteboard notes. I shuffled around in bedroom slippers with mugs of cocoa or tea. I stared at the sickly pastel walls when I couldn't make my problem sets or my next scenes go. I twiddled the furnace dial as if it would do any good. I had a window seat pad made just for the windows there, even though the windows were only wide enough for my butt or gaaldine's and hardly anyone else's we knew. I got a gaaldine because of Wahlstrom. And a the_overqual. And a markgritter. And a timprov. And a ton of other people who aren't on lj. When we were squinting at the one aerial photo after the tornado, I utterly panicked, because I couldn't see Wahlstrom in the photo (it was off the edge), and not being able to see it was just one thing too many.

It's going to sound silly, but my slightly-younger geek friends were in Wahlstrom 202 when I was a senior, and my slightly-older geek friends were in Wahlstrom 202 when I was a freshman, and before I ever got there, Betsy's boyfriend Skippy and the rest of that geek horde were in Wahlstrom 202, and I had a sense of continuity from that. I ended up feeling like every couple of years, the right people would find the right place to be -- geeks in 202, geek stoners in 401, squirrelly freshmen in 205 -- and that was how the world would go.

I didn't have to be part of it any more for it to keep going. I don't want to be part of it any more -- I wouldn't go back to college if you paid me -- but when I was a freshman I opened my window to see Aaron practicing with a staff on the front lawn, and a couple of the senior SCA girls in garb waiting for a ride, and I knew I was home, and it was a kind of home I'd never had before, but I'd wanted it. I'd wanted that kind of home for a very long time by then. And if you were talking about SF while walking down the steps to Wahlstrom, someone you'd seen around but didn't know very well would probably join in, and I wanted all that for someone else. I wanted some other wide-eyed little girl to get to become a grown-up in that kind of place. The world has few enough refuges, and that was one of mine, and I'm not ready for it to be gone.
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