It’s easy for me to think of myself as being a little flighty. You could shack me up alone on an wooded island for a week, plunk me down in the middle of Calcutta, or place me in the dusty old attic of Granny’s turn-of-the-century farmhouse, and I wouldn’t complain. But put me somewhere ugly, in a suburban strip-mall or in the midst of Ryerson campus (where I used to be a student), and this happy camper would be no more.
I had an epiphany a couple of years ago while walking around the St. George campus: it dawned on me that I am at my happiest when surrounded by beautiful things. By this I don’t mean that I want to swathe myself in beauty queens and Chippendales, but that I like to live in places where, when I look around, the landscape or the architecture shocks me with its charm. When I think back to most of the cities in which I’ve lived, the countries through which I’ve travelled, the farmhouses I’ve fallen in love with, even the forests I have camped in, this makes a lot of sense. When I can look around and breathe a silent “wow,” I am normally quite content.
Because of this trait I’ve sometimes wondered if part of the reason I like being at U of T is because I’ve fallen in love with the university’s old buildings, its snowy stone-enclosed pathways, and its grassy courtyards.
Visual Details I like most about U of T:
-Imagining walking in the exact same places as my grandparents once did, 80 years ago.
-Light coming in through Vic’s giant windows, shining through the room in streaks and illuminating dust. Great for atmosphere in Latin class.
-The maze of buildings. In winter, the walkways from one class to another leaving footprints behind.
-The piano player in UC who practices on the third floor, and who you can hear in spring and summer in the courtyard.
-The Rare Books librarians.
-First snowfalls in King’s College Circle. When I stand in the middle of the lawn, and no one is too close to me, I can imagine the campus as if seeing it in black and white, thanks to all the snow. A bit like the old black and white photographs my mother has collected from when her parents were students here.