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Okay, so it might be a bit more complicated than a “no” and nine exclamation points (maybe ten would’ve done the job?). But two months and some change at Swarthmore and it’s easy to get the feeling that it’s a desolate wasteland where the concept of a “crush” fits in neatly with its less colloquial definition. Why is this the case though? Is there something in the Sharples water that comes out of the fountain that constantly, without fail, reads REFILL even though there’s no way that it could possibly still need refilling? Something emitting from the fire moose that causes more than just temporary casual discomfort?
Coming to Swarthmore, I was elated at the thought that I could finally, for once in my life, have potential romantic interests. Fantasies involved stolen kisses in the fall-time amphitheater, romantic afternoons on Parrish Beach, and more, but little did I know that romance at Swat begins and ends with pathetic Tinder messages and avoiding eye contact in Sharples the morning after.
This disappointing realization has led me to the pose the question: why the fuck is Swat like this? I mean hey, you have to be at least a little smart to be here, so why the complete and utter lack of any sort of emotional intelligence here? I’ve weighed the hypotheses, run the tests, and analyzed the data. Or at least I would’ve if there were any actual cases to study here. Unfortunately, the point three semi-functional relationships on this campus couldn’t be reached in between their constant PDAs to remind all of us that we are alone and will never have that. In lieu of actual case studies, I decided to reflect on some of my very own brushes with Swat romance.
It’s certainly sad that it’s not even three months in, and I already feel as though I’ve exhausted any and all Swarthmore options. Tinder currently just creates ring upon ring of faded red that reaffirm that we are in tragic suburban Pennsylvania. Swat parties consist of running into guys who 1) your best friend already hooked up with, 2) you already hooked up with, 3) your best friend is in love with, or 4) you’re in love with (and terrified to even make eye contact with). The idea of finding some manic pixie dream boy who will sweep you off your feet is long dead once you realize that the men at this school get winded walking up Sharple’s hill and are without a doubt, not going to be sweeping anyone off their feet.
Still, you play along with the game. Tell yourself that a real world four is a Swarthmore seven and a real world seven is a Swarthmore eleven. To an outside observer, this could be seen as desperation, but at Swat, it’s adaptation. If we’re going to be here for four years, there’s a necessary irreverence that needs to be taken with Swat’s romantic scene. Everyone here is just a some-degree-of-awkward teen/young adult who doesn’t know what the fuck they’re doing, even if it looks like they’ve got it all figured out. Experiences here will range from mediocre to downright strange, but regardless of how they end up, you can – at the very least – leave with a good story and a laugh, and most of the time that’s enough.
So does love exist at Swarthmore College? In the typical, fairytale way, I’m going to argue that it’s highly improbable you’re going to find your Prince or Princess charming here. But that doesn’t mean you can’t love the foolishness that comes along with trying to find love in this loveless land. View every embarrassing hickey as a battle mark that you have pride in, greet every awkward 2 a.m. hookup with a huge smile and a wave in Sharples the next morning, sweep yourself off your own feet at Paces (i.e. slip on the sticky ground and laugh about it with your friends for the next week).
Love doesn’t exist at Swarthmore College, and that’s okay.