I’m being foreclosed. The powers have advised me that they’re taking my faculty office; the goon squad will show up with a dumpster some time before the first of June.
Okay, I exaggerate, but only a little. I am being kicked out of the office that I’ve occupied for 39 years.
I suppose the record should show that I have no quarrel with this decision, and I’m not in the least surprised. When I retired, they promised to let me keep my office for three years, and I’ve had five. And I’ve known for months that this change was in the wind.
Still, I must say it came as a shock. Like I say, 39 years, since I came here as a pup in the fall of ’69. Which makes it about the most stable reference point in my life, ever. Well--I guess I was 49 when my mother died, but we had lived on opposite coasts for more than half that time (my father had died much earlier). In the years since 1969, I’ve had two wives, two houses and a condo, countless apartments (I go away on visits a lot); two children outgrew their childhood and presented me with four grandchildren (and the grandchildren seem to grow up at a lightning pace themselves). But there is stuff in that office that has barely moved the whole time.
I have to admit, I don’t even need an office all that much. I do my class prep (I double dip) in the coffee shop. I talk to students wherever convenient. The office serves, aside from being a point of reference, as storage for a bunch of books I don’t have room for at home.
I repeat, no complaints: they are even providing a “substitute” of sorts--digs in an academic/Stalinist cellblock a half a mile away. I strolled by there to get acquainted yesterday. Right now, it is pretty forlorn: lots of deferred maintenance and a long corridor of empty and open little cribs. They must have been occupied by mathematicians: they all have blackboards, and the blackboards have lots of integrals (also a few giant penises, but I don’t suppose you can blame that on the mathematicians). Still, nothing wrong here that a little domesticity won't cure (along with an industrial-strength blackboard eraser).
The powers that be go further: they say they’ll even help me move. Well, that’s a blessing: I’m certainly too old & sick & stupid & lazy & tired to schlep all these books across campus myself (and if I did, I suppose my cardiologist’s beeper would go off). Another solution would be just to leave them all behind. I tell myself I need to bring them all along, but then I told my buddy that he could go into my current office and take just about anything he might want. Which must tell me something.
Once more, this was no surprise, and it strikes me as entirely fair. But the night after I got the news, I couldn’t sleep. And I still feel a bit like I’m in a room that has just recently been struck by lightning. I tell you, foreclosure is not for sissies.