Friday, October 31, 2014

Homeward Buddha

     Professor Hammerstrom’s apartment is located off campus, just outside of West Gate. In terms of distance, it’s about a mile from our dorm to his front door—it took us about two weeks to realize that most things, such as grocery and clothing stores, would all be about the same distance away.
We have Buddhism class at Professor’s home. It makes sense, given that the only students are those from Pacific Lutheran University and Lewis and Clark—and we have a grand total of six students. We got to decide where we would like to have our class, and our choice was basically this: we could use the classroom on the sixth floor—walking all six flights, as the elevator is broken—of the red brick building next to our dorm. Where we would sit in metal chairs that make our backsides sweat and that fill the cavernous room with rusty screams when someone so much as twitches. On the other hand, we could sit on comfy couches—complete with floral seat coverings—sipping tea and coffee, while we discuss the essence of Buddhism.
     It was a hard decision.
     So, every Monday, we take the trek to the apartment, loaded with laptops and Buddhist commentaries. Our conversations during class are abstract, to say the least, but it’s the conversations during break that really capture the core of our little group.
     “Does everyone understand?” Professor Hammerstrom asked, “I know it’s a difficult concept.”
     We nodded, with varying degrees of conviction. I was still processing, but I reasonably sure that I would understand.
     “Okay,” he continued, “why don’t we take a break?”
     A relieved sigh had barely passed my lips when Anna said, “we were completely wrong. The name was Shadow.”
     A moment of silence in the room, broken by a chorus of “what?”
     “The dog from Homeward Bound.” She explained, referring to a conversation we’d had a few days previous. I laughed as I stood up to stretch my legs—we’d been guessing names like Duke and Buddy. Grabbing my mug, I jumped over the back of the couch and walked to the compact kitchen. Behind me, the conversation continued.
     “Who voiced him?” Jeremiah asked.
     Anna opened her laptop and did a quick search. “Don Ameche. Oh,” she paused, “he died in 1993. That’s sad.”
     Ignoring that piece of solemn information, Jeremiah leaned over her shoulder and said, “he died sixteen days before I was born. I could be his reincarnation!”
     “No you couldn’t,” Courtney corrected from the water cooler, “it’s forty-two days in between death and reincarnation.”
     “No, no.” I interjected as I poured Maxwell instant coffee into my chipped mug. “It’s forty-nine days.”
     Oh, what brilliant scholars we are.

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