I went to college in the Pacific Northwest where I grew up. My university was 80 miles north of Seattle in Bellingham,WA at Western Washington University. My university is a lovely one with the old brick buildings and ivy climbing up the sides. Ivy that building maintenance removes about every five years because of the damage it can do to buildings. The dormitory I lived in was one of the older ones. I had chosen it because the rooms were bigger, it was a study dorm and I figured that would keep me on task, and it had this amazing grand staircase up to the lobby as well as one of the only work pianos on campus, that wasn’t in the music department. It was also attached to one of the most beautiful and historic buildings on campus which was the old dormitory one which my Step grandmother, Clara, actually resided in when she attended Western. The dormitory was very vacant during the time I was at school, we used to joke that the building was a bit haunted.
One spring evening the power went out on the north part of campus, which included where I lived. I am pretty sure it was spring, but it is entirely possible it was late fall. I DO remember it was a Friday and I was walking back from our Chi Alpha gathering on the other side of campus. My friend Jennifer was walking along with me since she had parked in the parking lot near our dorm and had planned to visit some of our friends before she headed to the home off campus where she was a nanny. It was kind of spooky walking in the dark, but there were a few people out and about at first. It wasn’t until we neared the old abandoned dorm that it got really spooky. The pathway split and we were debating about going through this tunnel or walking around by the stairs. We decided to take the tunnel and walk really fast, it was only about 25 feet long and it was the quickest way back to the dorm. As we exited the tunnel a door to the building opened to our right. Now keep in mind this building is vacant and no one is ever in the building, so we were very startled. I know I reacted as expected and screamed bloody murder, I am pretty sure I attempted to jump into Jennifer’s arms too, but she was also screaming. After we calmed down enough to realize it was a real person, actually one of the members of our campus security, we were okay. The poor campus security officer who made the mistake of coming out of the door at that exact time was probably just as startled as we were and very apologetic. He ended up walking us to the dorm with his giant mag-lite illuminating the way. He told us that they had no idea how long the power would be out and if there was an option I might want to head off campus for the night, since my building was so old it didn’t have any back up lights and it was getting chilly since the heat was also out. Jennifer offered to take me to her place, she knew that the family wouldn’t mind for, the night. My room-mate was gone for the weekend and I really didn’t want to spend the night bumping around in an old dark building so I took her up on the offer. We walked up the four flights to my room, with the security guard following us. He was making sure everyone in our building was safe. I packed up enough things for a night away and we headed off in Jennifer’s car.
The next morning I met the family I had stayed with. I remember the husband was a professor at Western, I think. He was quite amusing and pretended to be a bit gruff when we met at the breakfast table. Saying something like, “Oh so you are the one who spent the night! I understand the university lost power. We are happy to accommodate you.” Really in my head what he said is much more amusing than it looks in print. We told him the story about the security guard and how my dorm had no security lights at all. He found it all quite amusing. I spent part of the morning with Jennifer playing with her little charges before we headed back to campus. The power came on later in the day. Some of my friends were a bit concerned about where I had gotten to so they were happy to see us both. I am pretty sure I retold the story about the tunnel and the security guard for another six months until summer was over and we returned for another year of school. Now I still recall the story with a smile, because of Jennifer’s kindness and just the circumstances surrounding the event.