Today starts my third full week back on campus. I find myself marking progress in odd ways. I remember the day they hauled away the gauntlet of porta-potties that lined the sidewalk on my walk to the office, or the day my desk phone service was restored. I watch the piles of rubble lining roadways: are they smaller on today’s commute? Are any of the big landmarks missing (the shrimp boat in front of Fisherman’s Wharf? The vintage sportsfisherman that I think belongs to a former neighbor, landlocked near the heliport. The fleet “anchored” at the foot of the Galveston Causeway, tossed around like a toddler’s broken toys…)?
I’ve been parking front and center in my assigned lot, a lot closer than my usual East WayBackandWalk spot. Today there were a few more cars. I was glad to see them; like today’s opening of the Field House, another sign that little by little things are getting slowly back to “normal.”
At home, Ike’s most prominent reminders were three large plywood panels still up on my second story windows—the ones too big and too heavy to get down alone. They’re now down, just in time to enjoy what’s beginning to feel like fall. (Unfortunately, I know so many others facing so many storm-related hardships, I’m hesitant to celebrate my “progress.”)
There’s one thing about “new normal” that I’m growing fond of: the new outdoor cafeteria. For those who haven’t been to campus, Cafe on the Court, Quizno’s, Chick-Fil-A, all the kitchens and dining areas on the first floor of John Sealy, are essentially gone. There are two white tents on top of the University Plaza parking garage, one has a chow line, the other tables and an outdoor dining area. The menu is fixed, an entree or two each day. Somedays it delicious and popular—ribs or burgers or rice and gravy—and somedays it’s less so (last week’s liver and onions, as an example). It’s a little like high school, with anticipation building as small groups head over to see what fate offers, to make their way through the line and gather around the folding tables, plastic utensils and bottled beverage in hand, picnic style. People are being good sports, everyone is making the best of the situation, and even with grilled liver fumes in the air, it feels good.