Oregon is not without its problems especially Portland.
My time at Oregon State University in Corvallis for parents’ weekend was a reprieve from the suffering of San Francisco. I came home and had to go grocery shopping and while there a woman began yelling at the security guard in the liquor section. I wondered if this woman knew that a security guard had just killed Banko Brown who was caught shoplifting in Walgreens around the corner. I walked home stepping around people lying on the street. I really don’t know what will happen next to my beautiful city. I feel like every day there is something new. I’m unsure if things will get worse before they get better, or if we are now at the lowest possible point. I’m not sure how much longer I can live here, although there is much to love about it.
Corvallis has changed too. While there I found an encampment literally next to the Delta Gamma house. A man was sleeping in the bushes. He had a cooler, a chair, and a sleeping bag. In the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house parking lot which is now boarded up, there is a camper and a group of homeless that sleep there. This would have been unheard of when I went to school there. I don’t think in my four years I saw so much as a stray cat. Also, seeing the Delt house boarded up was very sad considering all the fun we once had there. I walked by the retaining wall in front of the house that is now collapsing and remembered being kissed while sitting there during my senior year of college. This was right before I entered what we then called the “real world.” Still, I can’t imagine how the Delts let this happen to their house. What would have had to go so wrong that the Delt house would turn into an abandoned building?
Yet, the rest of the campus was largely the same or improved. The Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) house looked exactly the same. The warm wood paneling in the living room is exactly the same. The bronze lions on the porch are the same. The Alpha Phi house has been lovingly updated but retains its original casual character positioned right on fraternity row.
Oregon State goes all out for parents weekend and this one was no exception. On Saturday we took a party bus to Ankeny Vineyard, then came back for a frat party, followed by a live-out party then we went downtown to a place called the Peacock to dance. It doesn’t have the best reviews, but we had a great time. I think the Peacock has been around for a while, but I don’t remember going there as a student. We went to Squirrels instead. I guess Corvallis likes to name their bars after animals.
The campus was full of students on their way to classes walking along paths with flowering trees and shrubs reaching up to the rooftops of some buildings. Apart from all the socializing we had a very calm weekend with gorgeous skies full of white clouds with a deep blue sky peeking through. We also had some scattered showers and on Sunday we went to the park and lay in the grass. We met this guy who knew the names of all the trees. The tree we sat under was a Flowering Japanese Cherry.
While I sat drinking my coffee one morning I was astonished by the silence there. No sirens at all, just the sound of the heater kicking on. I did however miss the city. Living in a city has a certain energy that can’t be explained. There is a buzz in the air there. It gives you the feeling that you are in the center of something. While I was in Corvallis I thought about living there. I could ride my bike to work. I could stop in a cute coffee shop for my morning latte. It could easily be romanticized. There are houses near campus with porches and people sitting outside listening to classical music.
It has been one of my greatest joys to share my college experience with my daughter who is also an Alpha Phi. As we walked arm in arm through campus we wondered if she would someday have children and if they too would want to go to school here. I hope so.