I met the challenge of my senior year in high school with a determination that was, quite frankly, short sighted. I had spent the entire summer before school started just lingering about, doing to odd internship or work study that fell into my lap and thinking about nothing further in my future than that PE class I was going to have to suffer through once school started up.
Not once did it ever cross my mind that I should be thinking about college. So, unfortunately, when September rolled around and a few of my more forward thinking friends started talking about colleges, major, minors, and career plans (egad) it felt like I had ridden a bike straight into a fence, and flipped over the handle-bars.
How does this relate to my favorite place on Western’s campus, you might ask? I’m getting there.
Laying there on my back, I realized that I was in a rather troubling situation. As the first person in my family to ever plan to go to college, I had no one around me that I could turn to for help. When I approached my parents with concerns about how to start the “college thing” they looked at me with expressions of vague bewilderment and could only really offer me help by pointing at a computer. So I did something not so smart, looking back on it. I asked my friends.
Placing one’s entire plan for school, and by extension, career into the hands of a bunch of seventeen-year-olds? Well, mixed results is a polite way to describe the results I got.
One said private college was the way to go. Others said community college. Another still suggested I should choose by what major I wanted to pursue. This one also rather smugly suggested I major in a science or get and industry degree, because that was where all the jobs were. Given the fact that I am now an English major, my friendship with that person was strained for a while. Muddling through all these suggestions and second-advice, I eventually narrowed my choices down to two: Oregon State University and Western Oregon University. I applied to OSU, got in, and during my plans to apply to WOU, it was suggested that I tag along with a friend and her family to a preview day so I could apply, look around the campus, and get my reply from the school all in one day. Glad to have some sort of firm, real structure to my college search, I agreed.
I walked away from that day, knowing for sure I was going to Western in the fall.
I was the campus tour that really did it for me. Most of it was bland, boring even, as we trudged up and down Monmouth Avenue, but our guide, to avoid collision with another group, took us away from the Natural Sciences building through the side, stepping back from the main stretch of campus, and through the shadowy remains of the old Grove. I was immediately charmed with what was there.
Tucked away in a little pocket of greenery, there was a path, that led from the main street of campus, back behind the buildings, and into the paths and routs more likely to be taken as a student. This little space was pretty, but like an old public park is pretty. Old, established trees and scraggly undergrowth competing with urban detritus for ground space. Three benches, a trash can, and a sign, giving the history of the spot.
This spot remains my favorite spot on campus to this day. My first year here, I even did an art project there.
While I don’t spend a lot of time sitting or hanging out in this spot, like much of Western’s campus, I think that this little path works best as brief taste pf a transitory beauty. It gives me a sense of contentment every time I walk by, and makes me remember why I wanted to come here.
By Bonnie Wells