Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Tunnels

There were tunnels beneath The Womb, subterraneous veins through which only the students and female staff were allowed to flow. It was dark down there, and drippy, but ninety percent of the time this was preferable to the South Bend weather aboveground.

Our brother school had the Good Year blimp seven Saturdays a year, but we had this, the ability to walk below tree roots and emerge squinting in the weak winter sunlight. The tunnels connected dorm to bookstore to library, and the roaring stuffiness was sometimes so intense around the hot water lines that often when I emerged land-side to take on the last few hundred feet between me and the class room building, I stepped into the biting outside air bareheaded, sweatshirt sleeves pushed up and carrying my stadium jacket through the falling snow.

Some artistic souls took to decorating the tunnels; murals, club advertisements, class signatures. So every fifty yards or so would go like this: Grey grey grey enormous blue French Cross; grey grey grey quote from former College president; grey grey grey Look! It’s multicolored wrestling worms! Abstract Art! grey grey grey.
There were spiders anyway.

Some said the tunnels were haunted. The only ancient spirit I experienced was that of an aged nun’s. I was caught behind her at a shaft in the system in which the tunnels were too narrow to pass; I trailed her all the way across campus, underground, weaving behind, room keys clicking impatiently against my backpack. Her ankles were the thickness of a spaghetti strand, fiberoptic thin. I stared at her weedy ankles in her sensible shoes as my tattered sneakers tailgated her. Move! Move! Move! I was eighteen! With things to do!
She reached the end of the corridor, touched the door, turned back to smile at me, then slid past and walked back the other way.

The tunnels were glorious stealth, an echoey form of transport. We liked walking unseen. It could be midnight, one AM, four; we were still able to glide silently through the campus without the night ever knowing about it.

We laid our honor down before the tunnels. Parietals, we snapped with the ease of a Pixy Stick. There was an… understanding about that; we felt it was a stupid rule, and so we massaged our actions around it, when necessary. Man In the Tunnels, there was an understanding about that, too. Dates were rarely taken down there.

The administration shut down the tunnels soon after I graduated. Security risk, they said; codes, and regulations, and all. When I read the news, I sat back in my big-girl, real-world chair, sorrowing. The students who had taken my place would have their jackets on all the time now.
shhhhhhhhhh.... you have just experienced a preview at: mb@blondechampagne.com

14 comments:

MissDirected said...

I was devistated when I read the tunnels would be closed. I think they were open for a couple of years after I graduated. I mourn the generations of women to come who won't know the joy of swimming at Regina and not having to walk outside with wet hair in January to get back to their dorm.

HelloBettyLou said...

Why only "students and female staff." My college has a tunnel, it goes under the town's one main road from one side of campus to the other. You do have to walk outside to get to it though.

MB said...

The Womb is a women's college, hellobettylou. No boys allowed :)

red pill junkie said...

"The Womb is a women's college, hellobettylou. No boys allowed :)"

But what about boy TEACHERS?

HelloBettyLou said...

Oh, well then...Still, only female staff? How do you get a good scandal going?

red pill junkie said...

Oh, well then...Still, only female staff? How do you get a good scandal going?

Sappho anyone? ;-)

gryphonesse said...

all girly College? And here I thought I had it tough at All Girly High School. Across the parking lot from All-Guy High School. Makeup didn't have to be on until luchtime. Oh, the joys of Zinc Pink lipstick and sneaking smokes between parked cars. And getting caught by nuns who HATED poor kids of divorced parents more than anything else.
oops.. sorry, got caught in my own little flashback! Must be contagious! Thx for sharing, MB!

Anonymous said...

a preview? a preview to what, mb?

can't wait! this was excellent

HelloBettyLou said...

Bite me, RPJ. I was being nice to MB. Of course I assumed some sort of Sapphic occurances.

my kidz mom said...

Woah, flashback! You just reminded me of the tunnels at my own "Womb" - Rosary College in River Forest, IL. It was originally all girls (guys affectionately referred to us as "beads" and you St. Mary's types as "belles"). Alas, it has since gone coed and morphed into Dominican University. Haven't been back in many a year; now you've got me wondering if its tunnels are still open?

amy lou the reader said...

"Preview"? You have piqued my interest, MB.

Excellent post on the tunnels. My alma mater has one, too. Although it doesn't sound nearly as cool or efficient as yours.

red pill junkie said...

awww c'mon hellobettylou. I didn't intend to be mean, just trying to cheer myself up after all the political crap that is being unfolded down here in Mexico since Sunday night...

mike the unpaid associate editor said...

Amy Lou: "Preview"? You have piqued my interest, MB.

Yesssss. "Preeeeeeeview." Mwahahahahaha!

MB said...

Hee! Beads. That's awesome. I can only imagine the tshirt possibilities.

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