Monday, August 15, 2016

Bloomington/Indiana Thoughts, Part 1

It's now August, and we're in the dog days of summer. The mostly warm-to-hot days of June and July have given way to day after day of muggy, cloying warmth, interspersed with thunderstorms to liven things up now and then. Somehow, the last two months have passed, filled with work and little adventures and time spent with loving family and friendly acquaintances and supportive friends. And so, time has sped by, to this point.

There are only a few fireflies, here and there, lighting up the twilight, and that, more than anything, is a silent, sobering reminder that time does march on, and despite the seeming perfection of life, it dwindles and sputters and dies.


Speaking of time passing, and the rhythm of seasons, and the ebb and flow of time passing...

...The students are returning.

You live in Bloomington long enough that, come May, when the spring storms are receding and the green foliage is at its most vivid, you rejoice, for the students retreat. They go back from whence they came, and you enjoy the reduced amount of traffic, the briefer wait times at restaurants, the shorter lines at the grocery stores, the fewer dude-bros hanging out around Kilroys on Friday and Saturday nights. But then you become one of the people that go to ground during certain times, usually around the middle of August, and then again during the Little 500.

We really cannot complain too much, because the existence of Indiana University, and thus the students, is what makes Bloomington Bloomington. We're a significant little city in this state. Without the university, we'd be another Solsberry or Hindustan or Danville or Paoli or Elwood. It is the students--their presence, their money, their diverse cultures, both national and international--who  make us who and what we are.

So they are returning, (or arriving for the first time) and the poor little shits are having to practically have to row their way here, because...


The last few days, we've been completely deluged with rain. Not, like, "Anchors Aweigh!" or "Louisiana drowning" rain, but several hours of steady rain, on and off, which can lead to some real gully-washing. Tonight, when wandering back to my car after a lovely outing with a couple of new friends, I noticed the rain-washed streets, reflecting a gleam from yellow streetlights. As I gazed into the murky gold muddling the asphalt, I thought about a younger me, 12 years younger, looking at a similar rain-washed street, in the same damned city. Then, I was a new arrival, just starting grad school, on the cusp of what I once thought was THE relationship of my life. I was 24 and bright and clueless and yet felt like I knew everything. Probably just like the students who look at those rain-washed streets tonight, for the first time.

It would be a goddamned privilege to live here for the rest of whatever years I have left to me, watching the generations of students come in and out, keeping this a town forever young. And yet...

On a slightly more sinister note...Lauren Spierer. Several years ago, I saw this poor duck and the circumstances of her disappearance showing up on my newsfeed. Being an Indiana news-junkie, even then, I was disturbed and saddened. And now, having moved back here, I can see that her presence is as strong as ever through her absence. One of my companions tonight remarked that we were driving past the place where Ms. Spierer disappeared--and as it turned out, it wasn't that far from where I had lived, just a few years prior. Like, just seven blocks away.

All safety is an illusion, even in a quiet little liberal college town.

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