i feel safe and loved and part of something real when i am in an old building. and an old building that i spend years in becomes a part of my family. there are several members of this family of mine.....our house, my childhood home, my grandmother's home and the art building.
this weekend is my 20th college reunion. i'm not one to enjoy large gatherings of the over-dressed and over-interesting. but i may have been convinced to attend if it hadn't been for the art building. this building sits in me as the core of my transition from child to woman. it surrounded me and let me bloom. i remember every inch of this building, a three level wooden structure, with a wide central staircase criss-crossing through the middle of the building. the front door shut heavily with a bang like thick solid doors do. the floors creaked. the windows were screenless and would often swell, refusing to open or shut. there was a dusty, dreamy quality to the air. a large gallery space took up one half of the main floor. it was windowless and echo-y. and a large room at the back for drawing classes, with huge iron presses against the wall for printmaking class. i fell in love in that room. probably more than once....there were many drawing classes. every corner of this building was special. upstairs where i had my painting classes. and a little corner i could call my own studio. the smell of oils. sneaking in after hours so i could keep painting. the wonderful lair of treasure and art that was my favorite teacher's studio. books. art. paint. and the damp smell of the basement with wet clay and alabaster dust. tables of drying pottery and every few weeks the glow of the kiln. the perfect idea factory. this building breathed with me. and now it's gone. several years ago it was torn down; i heard it was considered unsafe. thankfully a few years before, i'd taken my husband on a summer afternoon, driving home from indianapolis, to see the little university, and mostly the art building. it was a late summer afternoon. and the bulding was empty. and exactly as i remembered it. the dusty smells. the creaky floors. the open spacious feeling. i saw it all for the last time as i ran up the stairs, showing him every corner. and so i'm not prepared to return yet, without this central figure to my college experience.