Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Going For A Walk

TigerBlog was about 15 minutes into his walk around the campus Saturday evening when he came to the metal Tigers at the head of the football stadium.

It was nearly 6, and TB was struck by the fact that there was barely anyone else in his view, even if he turned 360 degrees.

Then he hoped that wouldn't be the case exactly one week later, which would be this Saturday at 6, when Princeton opens its football season against Lehigh. Hopefully at that moment there will be at least a few people, or a few thousand people, at the stadium.

For last Saturday, though, there was nothing but calm. In every way, it was calm.

The weather was perfect. School had just started, so the students weren't flooded with work. It was still early, so nobody was all that concerned about how to spend Saturday night.

Nope. It was just calm.

TB took a huge loop around the campus, starting in Lot 21, heading up past the football stadium, onto Prospect Street, across Washington Road, past McCosh, over to the chapel, past Nassau Hall, up to Nassau Street, back down around Mathey, across towards Dillon, down past Prospect House, back to Elm Road, past the softball field, past Roberts Stadium and the Lenz Tennis Center, across to Class of 1952 Stadium, up past the new neurosciences building, across the bridge over Washington Road, past the chemistry building, past Jadwin and back to Lot 21.

Then he did an abbreviated version. In all, it took about 75 minutes. It's how old people exercise. When they're not playing squash, because people who shall remain nameless but who happen to be the head men's lacrosse coach keep saying things like "today's no good but definitely tomorrow."

When you're on the Princeton campus basically every day for a quarter-century or so, you start to take the place for granted. That was the best part of TigerBlog's walk. It reminded him of just how special this campus is.

For starters, he works in a basketball arena. People pay money to come into this building to watch games. The back part of his office slopes upward, because it's underneath the balcony seats.

As he walked up onto campus, he came to the chapel.

Every time he goes by it, he thinks of the weddings he's attended there - and the funerals. He also thinks about how Martin Luther King Jr. spoke there.

Mostly he thinks about its insane beauty, with its stained glass with the perfect amount of light, all housed in a building that makes TB think that whoever designed it back in 1928 knew exactly what he was doing.

Then there's Nassau Hall.

There was activity outside on the grass, mostly families and little kids running around, kicking balls and such, taking pictures on the little statues. Nassau Hall is another beautiful building from the outside, and when you walk by it so many times, it's easy to forget that this building was once the capitol building of this nation and that the Continental Congress had met there.

Maybe TB's favorite spot on campus - or at least non-athletic venue - is probably the Prospect Gardens.

As TB walked by there Saturday, a wedding was about to begin. Or at least TB guessed it was a wedding, with the way the chairs were set up.

TB can't imagine how much effort, and yes money, goes into keeping those gardens looking the way they do year-round. He assumes it's significant.

Along the way of his walk, he stumbled upon any number of people who were doing the same thing he was.

He saw a husband and wife on Prospect Street, with the husband's wearing a "Santa Clara Water Polo" hat. Santa Clara water polo was on campus last weekend for the Princeton Invitational, which included Princeton's first ESPNU event of the academic year.

TigerBlog has never been to Santa Clara's campus, though he has a sense it's pretty nice. He wondered what the visitors' take was on Princeton's campus, but on this day, they had to be impressed.

Diana Chamorro, Princeton's water polo contact, is a Santa Clara graduate, so she can now relate to what it's like for TB when Princeton plays Penn. Anyway, Diana said that Santa Clara's campus is much smaller than Princeton's but is nonetheless beautiful, that it's nicer than Stanford's campus and that it's the oldest institution of higher learning in California (something that TB never would have guessed).

Meanwhile back at Princeton, TB also came across different pockets of students.

He saw one group of five women debating what the first name of a sixth, who had just peeled away from their group, was. He heard someone yell through a dorm window "anyone have a car I can borrow?"

He saw a bunch of guys - he believes they were hockey players - playing sand volleyball in a courtyard.

It was typical college stuff.

He also saw a group of larger young men wearing Princeton football shirts or shorts.

Unlike every other football player in the country from Pop Warner through the NFL, their season was still a week away.

Exactly one week later, they'd be much busier. They would be at their most intense, their most focused, their most emotional.

For this idyllic Saturday, though, they were like everyone else TB found on his walk around the campus.

They were calm.

So was all of Princeton University.

It really is a beautiful place. TB's walk was a perfect reminder of that.

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