Today, PJ and I visited the Texas A&M campus, my alma mater. I earned my B.A. and my M.A. at TAMU, and I’ve always looked back fondly at my Aggie days. I now know that I was way too geeky while I was here, but I learned a lot academically and personally too. So, I definitely don’t regret the time I spent here.

First, we toured the offices of the Melborn G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research, which my dear friend James directs. The center’s office space is really quite large, and I’m completely jealous of his two — yes, two — offices: one for the center and one for his work as a history professor! I know James does a lot of good work on behalf of the center, and it could not have a better spokesperson and cheerleader. When we were at GEMCS earlier this year, for example, he impressed several of the scholars we met with descriptions of the center’s work and programs. So, while I’m jealous, I certainly don’t begrudge him his immense office space!

After we went to lunch with James and a professor from the English department, PJ went to tour the College Station bookstores while I went to the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives to read a manuscript of a Richard Cumberland play. I’m not sure how or even if this play fits into my current research, but I figured I had to go see it since it’s here. I’m still so giddy to see in person the handwriting of one of the eighteenth-century authors I study and love. I was also impressed with my ability to read his handwriting. I don’t have much archival experience, and I definitely had a lot of trouble reading the texts I looked at for my first book. So, I’m happy that I could fairly easily read at least 85 or 90% of this one. Cumberland’s hand is relatively easy to read, so that certainly helps!

The Cushing Library’s staff was very helpful and friendly and the reading room is spacious, comfortable, and user-friendly. None of these can be assumed in non-circulating libraries and special collections. Librarians can be grouchy, and it can be difficult to gain access to manuscripts. I definitely appreciated the Cushing Library’s accessibility.

I really don’t know if this manuscript will contribute anything to my work, but I enjoyed reading it. I now need to read more about it and see what other scholars have written. Maybe I should start seeking out other manuscripts to read!

When PJ picked me up, we went to the Bonfire Memorial, which commemorates the 1999 tragedy in which the bonfire collapsed, killing 12 students and injuring several others. I never actually went to the bonfire when I was a student — I was definitely what we called a two-percenter. And I’m not at all sure what I think about this memorial yet, but I do like that it places this accident in a historical context: it not only remembers these students but also others who had died in previous bonfire accidents. I think that’s definitely the right thing to do. The memorial itself is rather oddly structured. There’s some scholarly work being done now on memorials, what they mean, and how they convey that meaning. In contrast to some of the other memorials I’ve seen — the Vietnam Memorial in D.C., for example — this one seems a little over the top, but it’s probably a good thing to remember what happened and that it cost real lives.

We also drove around Bryan/College Station to see how much it’s changed. My high school, for example, has gotten even bigger; lots of buildings have sprung up all over the place; and other landmarks are now gone. Roads are being expanded, buried, and even rerouted. And it’s hotter than any human being should have to endure.

But it still feels like home on some level. I have (of course) so many memories here. I’m sure Paul doesn’t get much out of me recouting random events of my life while we’re here. But it’s nice to remember and to reflect a little. Bryan/College Station will, I’m sure, always be home.