June 14th, 2005


Walking in unfamiliar territory

The Oval is massively different now. Most people will look at it and say, "It looks about like it did before," and they'd be right. But a lot has changed.

Certain trees that grew tall and strong are no longer providing shade. There is no scar in the earth where they stood, because the earth itself was replaced.

As I walked across it today, it did not feel familiar. The ground was strange, different. I walked the path I always do, one not marked by asphalt or brick, and felt it had changed.

"My feet have never passed here," I thought. "This is new to them."

I passed under trees that no longer stand and by students who have new traditions of studying at Mirror Lake or the South Oval, and so no longer sit near where I now walk. I crunched new grass underfoot that may never have been crunched before.

But it looks about the same, and not everything is gone. The oak tree I love to climb still stands near the center. The seals at the end of the long walk still ward the path. The birds and squirrels never left.

All is not as it once was, but much is ready to become now. The Oval is fertile ground for new traditions, new friendships, and shenanigans of all types.

The old is now new, and there is much work left to be done.

[Some background: the Oval at Ohio State is kind of like the "quads" that other schools have. It's the center of campus, a large grassy area where the students study and lounge. Over the past year and a half, it's been under construction, being renovated. It was opened last week for general traffic.]