I was looking for the old Hopkins bookstore in the basement of Gilman Hall where my non-credit classes had met. The hallway circles the building and I couldn’t remember which way I should go to find the bookstore. I was worried that I wasn’t going to have enough time to pickup my books (I didn’t want to make a bad impression on my teacher) and make it to class on time.
Number 44 was where my first non-credit class had met. That’s where I found out how ignorant I was. And Number 48 had been the room where the student from the Seminars had taught our short story class. He really hadn’t been very nice and shot down every short story attempt in the class. There had been this one about a waitress in a diner that I thought was really great. People just came to expect him to be unsupportive even though it turned out to be the most talented group of writers I’d met to that point. He kept going on and on about Kafka even though for our realistic stories, Carver would have been a better example. It was obvious that he didn’t want to teach waitresses, mechanics, and what-not.
Of course some smart ass had to start leaving rubber bugs on his desk. I swear it wasn’t me but I would have done it if I’d thought of it first. From then on, we talked about his “bug story” and laughed. Realism was what we wanted to write. He always talked in generalities when we wanted specifics.
Maybe I was fooling myself. Maybe I shouldn’t have plunged back into academia. Over twenty- seven years ago I’d finished my Masters degree and I’d barely had the stamina for my oral exam even after studying everything I could find on advertising theory and socio-economic systems. I just wasn’t the academic type.
The bookstore was in front of me and I stubbornly dove in. I was surrounded by Hopkins sweatshirts, books, and all those young people in their t-shirts and jeans. I was so comfortable in my work and mommy roles that I hadn’t thought about the culture of school, of fitting into a younger generation. Of course, if you knew me, you would know that once set in motion, I’m more like a runaway freight train than a local. I had already paid my tuition and now I was paying for my books. I was going to take the course, god damn it.
That book bag full of poetry and fiction and (who was this Phillip Roth guy?) was banging against my leg as I walked across campus. I would enjoy this. I loved reading. I would enjoy this.