In a normal year–and we all know this is not a normal year–I commute about 16 miles south one day a week to the university where our writing project is housed. That commute, which doesn’t sound all that long, on the best of days takes about 30-40 minutes. On the worst of days, the hour mark comes and goes. But I haven’t made that commute in nearly a year–and I didn’t think I missed it. For the most part, my writing project work can be done remotely. Meetings now take place on Zoom, emails and phone calls replace the in-office interactions, my Google drive is starting to be well organized and easy to access (well–that may be stretching the truth a bit, but it is getting better), and I don’t have to stress over finding a parking place with a space that matches the color of my parking permit.
Today, I made that commute. Not because I needed to be in the office, but because I needed to have a COVID test to go to the university tomorrow to get keys and a tour of new offices! I have a long history with the university. I was an undergrad here, I met my husband during that time. I completed two additional degrees on this campus and have been a part of our writing project for decades now. So this morning, after a Zoom meeting to deal with some project business, my husband and I headed down the coast.
Traffic was light and parking was easy–a small positive in pandemic times. Bright blue skies, puffy white clouds, and bright sunshine greeted us as we emerged from the parking structure to find the testing center. The campus is strangely empty. There are people around, but the numbers are small compared to my past experiences here. And once the testing was done, we decided to take our daily walk exploring this place we both know. After all, this is a beautiful campus, filled with interesting art installations and memories, memories, memories.
As we walked, we noticed new construction. We commented on changes we have seen over the years on campus. We turned here and there, sometimes finding dead ends blocked by construction screens other times remembering a familiar building. We walked the snake path, spied Fallen Star in the distance, and took a side trek to find the giant stone teddy bear. There are large tents serving as outdoor classrooms, although no classes were in session as we walked by. But it was the large shipping container that caught my eye.
“Class outside the box” it says on the outside, but I wonder what is inside the box. You can see the tent classrooms just behind it. And you can see Fallen Star (the tiny house perched on the engineering building) above in the background. I love the clouds reflected in the glass walls of the building and the brilliant blues of it all.
I’m looking forward to a second trip to campus this week as I am introduced to our new offices tomorrow. I still will likely continue to conduct much of my work from home, but it will be good to reevaluate our office materials, to familiarize myself with the office layout, and begin to imagine what a new normal might be in the coming months. What might my work look like as I consider it “outside the box?”