Time’s Bridge

The first school in which I taught in the US was the Bridge International School in Denver. It was 1984 I’d only been back from China a few months. It was a proprietary English as a Second Language (ESL) school. The wonder of it was that it was on the campus of what had been Colorado Woman’s College (CWC) and I interviewed in what had been one of the dorm rooms of my old dormitory. As the woman explained the philosophy of the school — which was beautiful, language being a bridge between peoples — I was lost in nostalgia and coincidence. I had left that school eleven years before, without knowing how good I’d had it there. I was more-or-less thrown out. Not exactly, but…

My decision to leave CWC was that moment in life we all have (if we’re lucky) in which we make an enormous, regrettable mistake and get to survive it.

It was a very small school — 600 students with one professor for every 8 students. Imagine that. Professors ate lunch in our dining hall with us. Lots of great discussions happened from that. If we wanted to learn something, all we had to do was find a professor qualified to teach it and ONE OTHER student who wanted to learn it. That was a class. For me, that class was Homeric Greek. There were no boys. Girls did everything. Ran the student paper, all the clubs, organized events and — in those days — protests.

None of this meant anything to me until I transferred to the University of Colorado which was almost the opposite. The biggest change was that girls didn’t speak in class at CU. They weren’t even called on. I could wave my arm in the air until I was blue in the face but FORGET IT. Within a year of leaving CWC, I understood why all girls schools mattered so much. I didn’t even know what misogyny was until I transferred to CU and a tenured professor said straight up in a philosophy class, “If you’re a woman or a Jew you will not pass this class.” (Just so you know, he got fired in the 80s, more enlightened times.)

After my interview I told the woman that the building had been my dorm. She looked at me wide-eyed. “Yeah,” I said. “I wonder if I could go see my dorm room? It’s on the third floor.”

“Sure. You just need to find the maintenance man. I’m sure he’ll let you in.”

I loved my dorm room. It was one of three strikingly similar (architecturally) places where I’ve lived that I’ve been totally happy. The second was my apartment in Denver; the third is my little house here, in Monte Vista. It was one of things that attracted me to this house. All Spanish revival from the 1920s. I found the maintenance man and he was happy to unlock the door for me. I went into my room. No one had even moved the furniture. It was just as I’d left it. I unrolled the mattress and sat down on my old bed and looked out the window. Wow. Then I thought. My freshman year I’d done an earth sculpture that included 3 cedar fence posts. I’d saved one and it had been in this room with me. I wondered…

I got up from the bed, opened the closet door and yeah, you guessed it, it was there. The featured photo is my old dorm.

Here’s a post ( ha ha ) about the sculpture.

19 thoughts on “Time’s Bridge

    • Very cool but also sad. It meant no one had used the room. It was a symptom of the troubles that led the school to close, but for me, that day, it was beautiful ❤

  1. I have wondered on occasion who has lived in my dorm room — but I’m sure there’s nothing of mine left there now! I assume you on’t have a photo, but can you sketch your sculpture?

  2. A lovely story to read. I think it is great that you got a chance to teach in a school you have fond memories of. Right now, I am coaching a teacher who is teaching grade 7 in her old grade 7 classroom.

    So, did you leave the sculpture in the room or take it with you?

  3. Loved this writing- Brought back memories. I had a cousin in 1959-60 go to CWC but I am thinking it was in Colorado Springs? Also, my freshman year I lived in the Hoyt Hall Dorm on the UW campus. It was old then and I lived on third floor with a slanted roof; so portions of the room you could not stand tall straight in it! Building is still on campus but office buildings and not sure the third floor is even used. Of course, no elevators so up and down carrying our move-ins, move-outs and all in between. LF 

    • CC is in Colorado Springs, Colorado College. People used to confuse them when I’d tell them where I was going to school. My room had dormer windows and a slanted ceiling but I could stand up. It wasn’t that low and I’m only 5’1″ 😀

  4. Performance art is not well understood now, let alone back then! Amazing that the post was still there. I wish I could go visit my old dorm room – sadly it is in heavy use… So occupied all the time!

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