Monday, December 14, 2009

Changing Spaces

I've moved on my next book (The experience of place) and in the Introduction something the writer said reminded me of an important alteration of space in my (remarkably mundane) life.

I spent a couple weeks each summer between the ages of, probably, 8 and 14 at Girl Scout camp and I remembered these weeks as some of the best times of my life.  The bulk of these weeks were spent at Camp Scherman (I have only recently learned that there is a c in Scherman) which is in the San Jacinto mountains.  Through these weeks I came to fall in love with this part of California.  However, back to the change in space topic.

When I first was going to camp at Camp Scherman, all the roads within the camp (or at least all the roads we, as campers, walked) were dirt roads.  In fact, one of the songs we sang ("Scherman Song") had the line "Where the road's a little dusty and the trees a trifle few."  The last time I was there they had paved the roads.  I'm sure there were good reasons for this, but from my perspective it just ruined the place.  I don't know if the ruin was that it was in such contrast with my memories or that with paved roads the rustic, far, far away from civilization nature of the place disappeared, but, nonetheless, I never wanted to return.

Another moment of change of place comes to mind. This one from college and is a two-parter.

The college I went to I applied to and then enrolled, sight unseen.  Or, rather, unvisited.  The beginning of my first semester was the first time I'd ever entered the state in which my colleged resided.  The pictures sold me on the place (along with the reputation).  And the campus didn't disappoint (though it did set unreasonably high expectations for all future campuses).

Each summer class reunions happen on campus and it is a big to-do with each class that was celebrating it's x reunion (where x is exactly divisible by 5).  One summer I worked the reunion in the capacity of being on the little shuttle that took alums who didn't want to walk from place to place.  I was the tour guide, pointing out to the older alums what it was they were seeing on campus that hadn't been there when they had been students there.

I remember very vividly some of the older alums talking about all the trees that were on campus (one of the things that I liked the best) and noting that when they were students there they had really enjoyed the openness of the campus.

That story serves to segue to my most recent visits, as an alum, to that campus and, while no more foliage has grown, more buildings have been built.  Unlike my experience with Camp Scherman it doesn't feel to me as if the campus has been ruined with these new additions (in fact, I envy some of them - particularly, and weirdly, one of the parking garages) though the new additions have certainly driven home the fact that upon my graduation no one saw fit to freeze the campus in time as a tribute/shrine to my having been there.

Anyway, this is unlikely to be of interest to anyone but me.  Happily, this is unlikely to be read by anyone but me :-)

So, my stories of changing space.  More on my college campus is certainly going to be discussed in the future since it did establish many of my expectations of what one's physical environment should be.

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