Nortwestern University. I’d visited the campus a few times and this day, my bags were open on the bed next to the window in the sunny room for two. Not used to sharing, I dreaded what came next. A rommate. The thought of her gave me the shivers. And the idea of a co-ed dorm also made me uneasy. Lucky each room had an attached bathroom. Uncle Stuart assured me he’d pay extra for a single but I should give it a try. They spoiled me, those swteeties. I finished unp acking just as a key turned in the locked door. A life size Barbie the color of dark chocolate sailed in. A guy carrying too many bags trailed close behind. Space invaders. This will never work. Tossing what looked like an expensive bag on the other bed, she ordered the guy to leave the bags and get lost. He did. Prepared to hate her, she blinded me with a grin. “Names Shelley. Shelley Jackson. Basketball,” and stuckout a hand with long tapered fingers I pictured wrapped around a ball.. We shook hands. “Charlie Costigan. Cross coutry.” “Oh, the new kid on campus. I heard about NU recruiting for womens cross country.” Y’all must be fast. Y’all already proved it. Got here before me, grabbed the bed by the window.” I must have looked puzzled because she said, “Chill out. I won’t be sleeping here too often.” My lucky day. “Who’s the boyfriend?” “The one who carried in my bags.” That’s Len. He’s just one of them. And she unpacked twice as much as I brought on this first trip to college.
The August called me outside to explore. Key, bills and coins in my fanny pack. I headed out into the sunshine and a stiff wind. Classes didn’t start until next week but cross country practise began tomorrow and this day might be my one free time to check out the town. Walk east to watch waves splash over the rocks along Lake Michigan or west to town. I tossed a coin and said heads for the lake. Heads won. I ran ’till I got over. I ran ’till I got over a flash of sadness. Kind of a hippie feel to the street. Drawn to a small painting of a horse with blinders on anotHappy, I swadher booth, I knew I had to buy it. Lots of restaurants on the street.Without a campus map, new and confused, I found myself at the north end standing in front of the entrance to a garden. A huge ancient stone plaque said Shakespeare Gardon, dedicated 1916. I knew I’d found my place at Northwestern. I’d have to read about the garden. Somone , an interloper to my privacy, sat on a stone bench not far from me, nose buried in a text book.Dressed in football gear helmet in the grass at his feet, sat Thomas Donnelly. I waggled my fingers hello. For a long minute and he grinned. After a peaceful exploration of the garden, I headed back to find the dorm.