Truman State University was once NMSU and once my home away from home

TrumanSunkenGardenI went to Northeast Missouri State University in Kirksville, Missouri for college. For a boy from Humboldt Park, that might as well have been Olympus Mons, Mars.

Whenever things felt too overwhelming, I would go to the Sunken Garden. I don't remember how I found this place. I think it was an ex-girlfriend who clued me into it's calming effect. She wore a black hat like Richie Sambora from Bon Jovi and a black blazer.

Even though it was right in the middle of  campus, to the south of the Quad, most students walked passed it unaware that something torn out of Paris, France was in their midst.  I liked it because it was peaceful and beautiful yet at the same time, it didn't quite do the trick.

The place I really enjoyed on that campus was on the outskirts of campus, a section known as Red Barn Park. This was hated by the student body because it was such a far walk from the dorms and you only went to the nearest building for physics, engineering or other nerdy-like studies.

NMSU Red Barn Park bridge

I only went to NMSU for 2.5 years. many of the curriculum at NMSU were two year pre-programs designed to get you started and then ship you off to a school with a full program. I was ambitiously attempting to become an electrical engineer and failing miserably at it.

I also failed at love. I just didn't have the experience, the confidence and the ability to withstand the rejection from that girlfriend who introduced me to the Sunken Gardens. It sent me for a loop that took a very long time to recover from. My grades suffered and I spiraled into a depression. Of course back then I lacked the sophistication to realize it was depression. Like most of my friends, I thought it was just not being able to get over a girl.

Years later I visited the campus for a reunion weekend . One evening I snuck off from the activities and went to the bridge by the barn. I had the hat with me. I ignited the lighter and set the hat on fire.  I held it in my hand for a little while and then dropped it into the water.  I have not been back since.

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