Since I was forced to quit driving (my son took away my car!), my destinations for car trips have been direct and limited. I’ve gone to doctors, grocery stores or other locales where I had specific missions – no trips just to see what was going on.
But last week I had a doctor’s appointment for evaluation, followed an hour and a half later by a procedure with the instruction not to eat or drink anything in between. What to do? Go home? Go shopping?
Jennifer, my caretaker and chauffeur said, “I know what we’ll do – I’ll show you what is going on at the university!” Now, I’ve known the University of Kentucky like the back of my hand for most of my life. I was a student in the 1930s, and I got my first degree in 1941. During the war, nothing much changed. Then the medical school opened, and I returned as a graduate student until 1964. Yes, UK grew a bit in those years, building the new dorms and refocusing the occupants of some familiar structures. I began my work as a part-time employee and neophyte staff member in the early ’60s, then got my Ph.D. in 1964 and immediately went to work full-time until my retirement in 1985. I know the University of Kentucky!
But not anymore, as it turns out. I spent most of my time on our recent ride completely lost! The iconic stretch of Euclid Avenue near Memorial Coliseum is different. The Student Center (new when I was an undergrad and renewed 30 years ago) is under construction again. The new dorms look like hotels, with fast-food places and shops inside.
I had seen infill in action in the east side of Lexington, with whole subdivisions inserted into backyards. I read the paper and notice the building and zoning requests, but seeing it in situ brings new meaning to the label “infill.” My university has become a good-sized town all by itself, and my town has become a city, full and crowded.
Except for the forethought of previous administrations, the horse farms that give Lexington its singular identification might all have gone the way of the Maddens and the Fritzes, all the Bluegrass charm and individuation gone. My late husband, a businessman, declared that you grow or you stagnate. I wonder, are those our only two choices? I know that applies to people and for small businesses – do cities only either grow or stagnate? cc