If I had a giant mansion, I’d put lots of people in it with me. Probably no one anyone would expect, since I hate expectations and since I love my sophomores from Seminar this past semester. They’d go in the mansion.
As an adult, I’ve never much liked the idea of family. I don’t have one of my own, and getting one of my own is buried deep underneath much more immediate concerns. Like not being afraid of the office printers. (They beep. They scare me. PTSD is super fun.) Concerns like how much I love German, and adore research, and how attached I am to some of my colleagues – Paul Giurlanda is going in my mansion – that distract me entirely from standard wishes about families.
I’d have lots of other people’s families in my mansion. Plenty of children running around sounds just about awesome. And I’d like an entire wing dedicated to the lost twenty-somethings that I keep meeting in my classrooms. They can play with the children and calm the hell down for a while. I will teach them German and philosophy, the children and the lost adults both.
And no one would have a damn timeline. For when they became good enough, or loved enough, or anything at all. There’s not enough time in life for timelines.
Everyone would be allowed to feel crazy, sometimes, and sometimes really happy and sometimes really sad. No emotion would be disallowed. There is enough space for every shade of feeling, and every book. There will be lots of books. And music. So much music.
My young Padawan whom I sent away to Boston College. He’d have a place. And his mom, who is in heaven, she’d be there too. My music major, and my fighter in his wheelchair, and all the librarians I’ve loved. My dissertation director and his whole family. They’re invited. We also need at least one Catholic philosopher, and I think she’ll be available.
Not everyone is my favorite. Not everyone would be in the mansion. They’ve got homes they can get to, or I don’t know them anyway. Or they irritate me. I’m not sure how many social scientists will be allowed in my mansion. Perhaps none. And I think I’ll ban Ugg boots just to see what happens.
But I do love the idea of folks coming and going as they pleased. I love the idea of permanent welcome and generous goodbyes.
And secret passageways. Lots of those.
Sometimes it’s nice just to imagine that mansion.
Photo originally from Walt Jabsco on Flickr