Downton Abbey in Vanderbilt—Writing Studio
by Irene Liu
Writing Studio is where we revise papers. It is located on the end of Edgehill Avenue, like an ancient castle. There’s a large courtyard in front of the door and a stone stair in front of the yard.
It is not yet the season-changing time, but falling maple leaves—with mixed color of yellow, orange, and red—pile on the dark ivory steps, scatter on scarlet wooden benches, sweep across brown marble floor. Those leaves, like my yearning for hometown Beijing, China where golden ginkgo leaves would bury me in autumn, is everywhere on campus. The boundary between autumn and winter in Beijing is so clear when municipal heating supply arrives. I don’t see the boundary in Nashville, as temperature can change from 20 ℃ to 7 ℃ in two days and bounce back several days latter. Every time I see sunshine falls in that yard, I wonder if the sun also visits Beijing and brings my longing to my family. I wonder whether my little sister still covers her nose when she wanders through the street full of smelly ginkgo fruits. I wonder whether my grandpa still gets up at 5am and runs around the park near my home. I wonder whether my mom is still energetic about working out and shopping. I wonder whether my dad is still unsatisfied with his stable job.
Writing studio is a place for love to grow.
Every time I enter writing studio, I feel like entering an old novel—Wuthering Heights, Mansfield Park, or Northanger Abbey. No matter which mansion it is, various fantastic stories are generated and profound thoughts are provoked by brilliant souls inside. I talk with tutors about Antony and Cleopatra and understand Cleopatra’s typical characteristics described by Aristotle and Wordsworth—her prototype comes from real life, her sophisticated personalities are open to interpretation, her villain are rooted in human nature. I talk with tutors about Wuthering Heights and find out the subversive power Nelly, the servant, has in the novel. She controls the narration and characterization by telling stories to the primary narrator Lockwood; she injects her merits and value to two Catherines and Hareton when raising them up.
Writing studio is a place for ideas to grow.
Every time I leave writing studio, I stand against the door and stare through the yard at the car road. Are there couples cuddling on the bench like every literary comedy ends? Are there lost souls like me who wish to leave their footprints on this place.
As I walk down the steps, everything goes back to routine. Cars move slowly on the road; people trot on the pedestrian with phones in their hands. I tighten my jacket and head towards the next class.