In all the years since I lived in East Lansing, I have driven through and around it many times. I have skirted the edges of it on yarn store boondoggles in Frandor and lunches at the Tsunami Terlet Panera in Okemos. BTW, my years in East Lansing were not the best years of my life. They were often painful times for me as I rather desperately tried to figure out who the hell I was and where the hell I belonged in the world. One of the good things was that I met my BFF here aka Sam (archaeologist, not dog). Actually, I did not meet her in East Lansing. I met her on Radical Betty’s back deck. But it was in East Lansing that I got to know and love her. Those were good times.
Every year, the first Saturday in March, the GG schleps an increasingly large amount of crap up here to East Lansing to run a North Country Trail booth at the Quiet Waters Symposium. I always stay home. I work hard and I greatly value alone time at The Landfill. But this year I surprised myself by deciding to accompany him. I dunno why exactly. No immediate flinging plans and the Landfill Chitchen Reno is still a few weeks away. What the heck? I’ll help at the booth but I will also hike East Lansing and my old Moo-U campus.
After a crazy dial-in to a work meeting from our hotel this afternoon (when the heck did they build a huge, luxurious Marriott right in the middle of M.A.C. Avenue anyway?), I took a little exploratory jaunt. I walked down Grand River to River Street and my old apartment (I came to MooU as a transfer student and didn’t live in a dorm here), Water’s Edge. The Red Cedar River is to the left and a bit out of the picture.
Actually, that building is not the Water’s Edge I lived in. That one burned to the ground sometime back in the 80s or 90s or whatever. I remember hearing it on the news. This one is a new version. I remember when I first moved in I thought the place was so fancy. There were four of us, two bedrooms and TWO FULL BATHROOMS. In my entire life, I think that’s the only place (besides the Group Home at Houghton Lake) I have lived in that had more than one damn bathroom. In reality it was a kind of a cheesy joint with dirty hallways and very little security. Walking down there brought back many memories but I’ll save them.
From there, I decided to try to remember my route to the music building. Who can guess what the next photo is? Nowadays infamous for couch-burning parties after sporting events.
I certainly didn’t get lost but I didn’t follow my old route exactly. Everything was familiar in a kind of a dream-like way. And then suddenly I was at the music building.
I have lots of memories of this place but indulge me in one particularly bittersweet one. My teacher Borouchoff did the initial auditions for the symphonic wind ensemble that year. He made, um, meeee, first chair. Yes, I was really good enough to play first seat flute in a large university wind symphony. We hosted a new composer symposium that year and did a lot of crazy esoteric stuff and I was *really* good at crazy esoteric stuff so, among other kudos, I earned a “bravo alto flute” from none other than Gunther Schuller, who was one of our guest conductors. Alas, we had a nincompoop for our wind symphony director that year (and he *was* a nincompoop — he was *out* after that year). He re-auditioned for winter term and anointed the daughter of the director of Grosse Pointe High bands to first seat, knocking me down to second. Sucking up? Yeah, probably. Was I upset? Of course I was upset, what were you thinking? I kept a poker face though because that’s what I do in those kinds of situations. After the audition lists were posted, I was galumphing along through the basement of the music building and all the cool jazz guys started coming outta the woodwork asking me, “What the hell happened there with the flute section?” We all knew what had happened and those guys were sooooo sweeeeeet.
I headed back to the Marriott after that. We had a cocktail, then headed over to Beggar’s Banquet to meet up with our niece, The Beautiful Chelsea. I don’t think of our organized, poised, soon-to-graduate niece (teaching, yay!) as anything resembling a struggling, starving college student but it was still fun to buy her dinner! Paying it forward for all of the aunts and uncles who used to buy me dinner. Beggar’s Banquet has been there forever and it is still as good as ever.
And now, we are settled into our room and the GG is asnore in front of a Futurama marathon. I need to remember *not* to mention that at work Monday morning, lest the LSCHP take off on a half-hour monologue about Futurama. We have work to do. Chop chop!