Nothing like a week away from Swarthmore to remind yourself how uniquely f*cked this place is. The whole “Swarthmore Bubble” thing is overdone; the way in which we try to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the elite liberal arts collegiate sphere — as if Middlebury or Wesleyan aren’t just other shades of the same color of beige — reeks of needing some sort of validation of otherness.
With that being said, I feel as though something about Swarthmore distinctly has turned me into some sort of freak version of myself that loves love that I can’t help but otherwise believe this wouldn’t have been the case had I gone elsewhere.
Of course, there really wasn’t much of a choice. Swarthmore gave me the most money, gave my family the most esteem out of the slew of name-recognition-less options, and enticed me with promises of queerness and Quakerisms. By the time it was May 1, I was already envisioning the ten kids we would have together and the quality time we would spend together while on holiday.
Obviously I was entirely unprepared for what was to come once I got here. The queer awakening I was envisioning did not pan out as planned, as I quickly came to realize that it doesn’t matter how many queer students there are on campus, a school of 1,600 is way too small to have any sort of pool worth swimming in.
I tried to swim in it regardless. We all do! No matter how shallow it looks, how much it looks as though it desperately needs to be cleaned, there’s some sort of jerk response to dive in head first. I failed my swim test during orientation, so perhaps that should’ve been my warning from the universe to steer clear from any and all bodies of metaphorical water, but alas it was too late — I was caught up in the waves.
As I have since taken the required swim class in order to graduate and have thus fulfilled my swim test requirement, I’ve managed to get myself out of this (cess)pool and have cleared my head. With this clear head I’ve come to two conclusions: (1) swimming makes me really horny and (2) it’s hard to have a clear head when waves are rushing at you (and you’re, again, extremely horny).
I’ve also just come to see that, at least in my case, there’s something distinct about Swarthmore that just makes me a kinda lovey dovey. And it’s gross.
Prior to being at Swarthmore, I thought love was stupid. That definitely hasn’t changed, but just because you think something is stupid doesn’t mean you don’t want it. I mean, hey, I had an entire collection of Bakugan that, while insanely cool, definitely did not need to take up an entire shelf in my room for years, well past the time it stopped being cool to have them.
Still, there’s something about seeing your friends get Swat Married one by one, seeing the vacancies that pop up in dorms as your friend with a really good room lets it collect dust when they move in with their girlfriend of two weeks, seeing the cuddling at Sharples that can really mess with your head and convince you that you, too, should be having “the talk” and discussing names of children, that makes you just a little bit lovesick here.
So what is a boy to do?
With my newfound swimming skills, I decided to take a quick swim across the pond and found myself capsized on “Love Island.”
“Love Island” is a British reality show (as well as mobile phone game) where non-homosexual men and women (who are presented as heterosexual in all of their relationships, but could very well not be heterosexual in their lives outside of the shows) are plopped onto an island off of the coast of Spain and asked to couple up or else they will be kicked off the island. It’s probably sexist, definitely offensive, and at the very least, trashy.
It’s also reality TV at its absolute peak, and it’s frankly addicting.
Whether the islanders are having conversations about Brexit — which inspire memes about British people thinking Brexit had to do with trees — or you’re watching hot twenty-somethings have literal sex in front of your very eyes, the show is highly entertaining.
It’s about as clear an example of cisgender heteronormativity as possible, but something about “Love Island” just transports you out of the lacklusterness of Swarthmore’s dating pool and immerses you into a sunny beach with a bunch of hot young people with sexy British accents (and sometimes just funny British accents).
This show has absolutely engrossed all of my time this semester, with friends quickly becoming obsessed with it after the first episode of British accents and banter. Something about “Love Island” is clearly clicking with Swatties, and I think a large part of it might just be the fact that we are all sort of in search for our own “Love Island.” Once we’ve realized that Swarthmore is not in fact our “Love Island,” we search outward, and at least in my own experience, land upon the far more sexy, far more exciting, far more British “Love Island.”
Going to Swarthmore College has meant becoming a lovesick heathen, and with that, a permanent resident of “Love Island,” and for that I’m grateful.