Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Campus Fountain 

The pipes were exposed in the dry bed. The copper was green with oxidation which made them look old. The worn ends of the electrical wires that connected a junction box to the broad spotlights proved their age.

The fountain had been dry as long as I had been visiting the campus, from the middle of my HS career to now many years after attending and graduated from here.

Every time I visit I take a few minutes to sit, on a bench or on the low cinder block wall near the library. I like to think back to my time here, trying to balance so many things that were so important with a few things that were not as much. I spent so much time sequestered in the library, desperate to stay focused, trying to keep myself from thinking about coeds, trying to stay awake, trying to solve a mathematics problem. I would go from the library to the dining hall and back again, returning to more reading or chemistry with a pilfered apple in my book bag. I try to remember classes that I had in buildings that no longer exist. I wonder how old my oldest professors are now and if they are still teaching or retired or dead.

My dorm mates and I threw a frisbee when the weather was nice or stayed inside with music and video games when it wasn't. Waking up to snow and canceled classes was a magical thing.

I think about these things, old memories of youth and they comfort me not because they are from a time without stress or heartbreak or loss but because they all come marinated in an innocence that has been drained from my life as it now stands.

Inevitably, as I sit, my mind wanders and I find myself trying to picture what the fountain might look like in full repair and operation.

I can see the depth of the night that covers the campus. The lights are on and small motors rotate colored discs in front of the spot lights so that the red light morphs into blue and then into green and then yellow and then red...

I can hear the hiss of the water as it erupts from the tips of the just exposed pipes. The water arcs upwards, refracts the light and then splashed back down, not directly into the surface of the water, but against the carved stone centerpiece.

There is no wall to delineate the boundary of the fountain, but the guts of the fountain, the wires and lights and the junction box and the copper piping sit in a dimple in the concrete, intentionally formed to keep the water from running as it pleases. And, yes, I can see the wet footprint caused at first by the water waiting its turn for a run through the tubing and then where the spray drifts and settles based on the breeze and the minute imperfections of the rock that cause the water to bounce off with unknowable trajectories. The imperfections in the rock influence the water and the water, over time, influences the imperfections in the rock.

But that doesn't happen anymore. The lights are dark and the concrete dimple is dry.


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