I noticed the little garden between Lamont and the University gates, across the street from the Kong, unseeable unless from above, one afternoon while I was studying in the library for exams. Freshman year, I couldn’t conceive of not studying for exams in Lamont library. Projecting forward, I imagined long satisfying weeks of working in the pleasant, heated third floor of Lamont, studying more and more advanced material. It was late on a Thursday. The lights were coming on up and down Mass. Ave. I was looking out the window at Bartley’s, where I was meeting roommates for a burger in an hour, and I noticed the garden, sequestered against the library wall, green and unlit, a sundial in the middle. Satisfied, I thought about all the times I’d probably sit in that sundial garden in the three years ahead—reading, perhaps, or sitting. Looking at the sun. I’d go while I took breaks from studying for exams in Lamont.
The little garden nook reminded me of a hidden garden in Central Park in New York, where I used to go for track practice in high school. We ran all the loops in the park, the coach just saying get lost for seven miles, so we did. One day we found a garden up in Harlem, on 104th, that was manicured like a cloister although no one was inside it. Huh, we said, and kept going.
I did get to the Lamont garden once. I’d just come out of an exam, last term, in the winter. I had another one the next day, but I didn’t want to study yet. I did a lap of the Yard and thought to go sit in the Lamont garden for a minute. I did: I pushed the metal gate, I took the gravel path, I sat down. I looked at the sundial. Then I took my phone out and called home, because I’d have to do it later anyway, because I didn’t want to waste time. Sitting seemed so decadent. I talked on the phone while I sat in the garden, and maybe that counts.