I took advantage of 69-degree weather, with little or no relative humidity, and walked home from work yesterday, all 4½ miles. I kept up a pretty brisk pace, and made it home in one hour and 15 minutes, without stopping at all except for Walk-Don't Walk signs, and I am usually pretty lax about obeying them.
I use Chittenden Ave. as my line of demarcation when I walk from downtown to Clintonville. I walk up High St. until Chittenden, and then east one block, and finish the journey going northward on Indianola. On the Indianola leg of the walk, I passed many apartment buildings and fraternity/sorority houses. Ryder trucks and U-Hauls seemed to be parked in front of many places, often more than one on each block.
During my days as the son of an academic, and my days as a professional student, I used to internalize the academic calendars of the nearby college(s). I kept abreast of Harvard's schedule during the 18 months I typeset The Crimson so I could plan getaways from Boston or know when I had several consecutive days to myself. Lately, I've been so removed from that world that I had forgotten that OSU's classes for the 2010-2011 year have not begun. (Never mind the football team has already played--victoriously--three games.) I learned that the start of the year was just around the corner when I walked up Indianola and saw all the pickup trucks, U-Hauls, and other vehicles, complete with people bringing out furniture and their possessions.
When I lived in Cincinnati, I had a seasonal job as a customer service person and parking lot attendant at DuBois Book Store, the store where University of Cincinnati students went to buy textbooks and course material. I worked there the three or so weeks that preceded the start of each academic quarter, and stayed on until the first 10 days of classes ended.
Autumn was the most hectic time, although my job in the parking lot was analogous to having a front-row seat at the circus. I later wrote a novella about my experiences there, The Textbook Diaries, which remains unpublished to this date. One of my first post-divorce projects will be to rewrite and -type this manuscript and see if I get any nibbles. (I flatter myself by telling people to imagine George Orwell's Keep the Aspidistra Flying being written by Charles Bukowski.)
Most amazing was how much stuff kids, especially freshmen, brought with them when they left home to come to college. I remember a young woman and her family coming to the store to buy her textbooks (she pointed to them and said, "They're my money!" when she went in), and her next stop was one of the freshman dormitories on Calhoun St., diagonally across from the bookstore. Her dad was miraculously able to finding a parking place right there on Calhoun, right in front of the dorm's front door, so he put on the emergency blinkers and began unloading her belongings.
I remember seeing a wardrobe of clothes that would have put Warner Brothers to shame, an entertainment center (with all the audio-visual components that it would house), a rocking chair, and (my jaw dropped open at this) a treadmill.
You know the rest. About 10 minutes later, the father came stalking out of the dorm spitting nails, hauling about two thirds of this stuff back to the U-Haul. She was probably in a quad--four people to a room--and even if she and her roommates had brought no extra possessions with them, the room still would have felt cramped. I mostly had single rooms the whole time I was at O.U., and I felt confined in them, even when I had the largest room in our suite.
The decorating style of my apartments owed a lot to students when move-out time came. I've never had the illusion that a dwelling place of mine would appear in Better Homes and Gardens or even the late Apartment Life, but I will take credit for naming the particular style with which I decorated my bachelor apartments. I called it Late 20th-Century Clifton Castoff, because most of my furniture came from curbside in summer, when the academic year at the University of Cincinnati was ending. A lot of students had bought perfectly good, functional furniture at the beginning of the year, and didn't want the hassle and expense of carting it home when the year ended. So, it would end up by the side of the road. I am no athlete, but I still managed to summon the energy necessary to carry chairs, tables, and appliances up to my room, if they looked clean and comfortable enough to still be useful. My TV set was a black-and-white Zenith I found in a dump, and when I got it home, I learned the owner had discarded it merely because the channel selector was gone. (I went to Laurel 5 and 10, bought a pair of pliers, and--voilà--the TV worked perfectly.)
I'm typing in the OSU Library, hearing many people crow about the Buckeyes' victory over Ohio U. I knew the Bobcats would lose, although I am zealously loyal to O.U. ("Athens, Ohio--2 libraries, 30 bars" read one T-shirt I saw today), because football has never been a big thing in Athens. When I was there, getting to the 20-yard line was considered victorious.
My time has run out on this computer, so I will post this blog entry and head outside. I'm just thankful that the computers here don't freeze and need to be rebooted as often as the ones at the Public Library seem to these days.