We visited that old building. Beds, desks, shelves, symmetry and sterility, the window over the parking lot, the characteristic smell of carpet and loft. As if time had stopped: identical to the first day, Sunday afternoon I think, when my mother and I stood in that doorway.

I miss it. There was a unique vibrance to our lives there, a glow of vitality. You can use the ordinary words: discovery, promise, challenge, youth. There was more: an unprecedented adventure into democracy, self-determination, community, and excellence. It was not about us so much as the future. Establishing that a free society was possible.

It didn't die, it was murdered, by mediocrities threatened by its ability to realize its ideals unambiguously in practice. We all contributed of course: we were insular, elitist, aloof, superior, when we should have made proselytizing a mandatory experience as central to our identity as breadth-and-depth and cross-cultural experience. No matter. It was killed from without because it threatened conformity.

Communism smells like the wood of the loft my roommate Jesse built, in the Spring of 1978 in room 202 of East Hall, Johnston College, the University of Redlands.