We Are at Hogwarts: An Imagined Evening at Swarthmore’s Yule Ball

No one knows where Swarthmore is except for the few who live, teach or are taught at Swarthmore, undeniable evidence that the school is actually unplottable. Our campus lies within the Forbidden Forest and we—forbidden to climb our carefully labeled trees as precaution against the unsuspected attack of hidden Whomping Willows—barely ever venture outside this magical fortress.  This charmed academy trains us to be the greatest witches and wizards of our time, fostering a sense that we can all become “The Chosen One.” Our students spend their social hours, not in a student center but in the Great Hall, where the Yule Ball will be held this weekend.

Tantalizing armies of chocolate frogs amidst our newly seeded organic lawn and floating bursts of musical entertainments fluttered around the campus for days before. Unsubstantiated rumors of Headmistress Chopp’s latest dancing frenzy to a remix of “Gangnam Style” and the Hogwarts school song, supposedly choreographed by a talented student-run dance group to be performed at the ball, encouraged Swatties to put on their dress robes and descend the stairs to cereal-dom. Just around the corner, all the long tables had been swept away and replaced with a stage and ample dancing space. Apparently the administrators had thought of placing an undetectable expansion charm to give students more room to dance but rejected the plan, realizing that college students prefer to stick close to one another in the face of looming dark times.

Dementors of deadlines and finals hovered over every student, sucking out their soul by the minute. But this night was one to celebrate. A night to fling aside dissonant thoughts of “I should be doing work” in personal pensieves, take a swig of pumpkin juice and relish the dulcet tones of caroling nymph-like students because, honestly, where else would you ever experience such a ball? Where else could I indulge in my fetishistic love of a childhood novel while continuously shirking my inevitable entrance into the Muggle world? I hold a time-turner in my hand, almost willing to turn back to the day I entered this fantasy. My first term here, I felt like I was on a constant dose of Felix Felicis. No longer was I a misfit of the Muggle world but a readily embraced member of a world of misfits (which, whether true or not, was exactly how Swarthmore was introduced to me by a recent alum). It would be facetiously accurate to say that in my honeymoon phase with Swarthmore, I would have been able to use the Mirror of Erised like a normal mirror. Almost three and a half years later, the Mirror of Erised would show me holding a lot more than a pair of socks. A reflection of me taking over the world, Dark Lord style, perhaps.

Yet, something about this magical dome draws me in like a Siren’s call.

Maybe I’ll be closer to who I want to be if I…
There are still many people I have yet to meet, too many subjects that I have yet to learn, too much that I missed as trade-off for taking on other responsibilities.
The transmagical experience of common suffering with fellow witches and wizards is too valuable and nostalgic to pack away in the category of “past.”
I have no idea how to reintegrate back in the Muggle World.

Enough. Get out of my senior pensieve. It is time to produce the patronus of productivity, combat the dementors and reluctantly accept that without the Sorcerer’s Stone, I am going to leave. But wait, since I’m 21+, I can use magic outside, right? Cheers.

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