It wasn’t the view, or the fact that simply walking up a Wellington street made me pant, no it was something else that really grabbed my attention.
Whovian Traveller and I had been secretly looking forward to this trip to the Open Day at Victoria University in Wellington. I say secretly because it felt indulgent when cash is still tight but we’d been lucky enough to secure some help with the airfares from her father and we simply couldn’t go.
She’d been looking forward to this next step in her bid for independence for months, and I’d been looking forward to spending some time with her one-to-one. It’s hard to get that time when work and life are so busy.
But what really got me and stopped me in my tracks was the innocence.
Not mine, obviously! But the overwhelming sense of innocence and optimism that seemed to spread over the campus, covering all those wide open eyes and those expectant faces.
I can’t remember my University open days, at Otago Uni in the mid 1980s being like that. Where were the Punks and the New Romantics and the Freezing Workers? Where were the hard arse chew on nail dykes and the happy-clappy Christian cultists? Were they hiding? Or do they simply not exist in our Universities these days?
Or maybe, they just don’t come to Open Days with Mum or Dad.
All across Wellington the scene was replicated. A young woman or man, fresh faced and big-eyed standing nonchalantly but close to Mum or Dad (not often both) taking it all in. Eyes feasting on the Student Lounge and the promise of late nights drinking cheap beersies and listening to bands whilst trying to catch the eye of the girl or guy across the room. Nervous fingers negotiating the notoriously tricky and rickety flip-down lecture seats and then diving into bags to turn their phone to mute. Ears assailed by hard-arse rock bands playing in the Union Hub area.
Except, there weren’t any rock bands.
This is what there was. Lounge jazz. Very good lounge jazz admittedly, but it wasn’t Adam and the Ants.
The Psychology lecturer has matured well. I wondered idly if the department had chosen him to give the seminal lecture on Psyc at Vic so all the Mums could sit there and sigh. The lecture was absolutely packed and the lecturer informed us that they had researched and determined why people took Psyc.
Number one reason – To understand themselves better, 2) To understand other people better and to help them, 3) To mess with people’s heads at parties.
I wonder which one Whovian Traveller related to? Though I know it’s the number two reason. She’s lived in a household full of loonies long enough to feel passionate about mental health.
I couldn’t be more proud.
I know that there’s lots of competition in Psyc. I know there’s slim chance of her getting a job straight after Uni but I also believe in the power of studying something you love. I studied English Literature all those years ago, and despite people constantly demanding I take Education papers and become a teacher, I refused to commit to a career. I loved every single day of my university life, and every single lecture of my English course (and most of my history too. Anthropology was my catch-up-on-sleep lecture). I believe in the power of learning how to learn and the brilliance of a general degree. I don’t think this fresh faced bunch of kids should be shoe-horned into cube farms doing… what?
We walked down the hill back to the hostel she’d fallen in love with and all those memories of bra raids and fresher bathings hit me. I just wanted to swap. Right then. Right there. I wanted to say ‘stuff it’ to adult life and bills and stresses, and just to go back there to the genesis of it all, to the safe halls of university. We hung out at the hostel for a while hanging out with RA’s and the warden and a friend visiting with her son from Auckland.
As we sat there I watched Whovian Traveller’s face as those eyes started to fill with quiet confidence. She started to relax into the conversation, and all of the teenage insecurities vaporised.
I know she’s ready to fly.
I couldn’t be more proud, more thrilled or more tearful.
My baby girl, is a young woman now, but she will always be my baby girl.