Wrinkle. Twist, squirm, SUN. His eyes open to take in the annoying morning light as his body rises to start the blessed day known as Friday. Like every responsible adult, he seeks to hush the vibrations and song of the 3-D magic rectangle while checking the time before anything. Whether or not he wanted to wake up early that day, his eyes flicker as he collapses back into the trap known as “a few more minutes” for another hour. His schedule begins to solidify in his mind: classes, the homework for those classes, study with the arc of the sun in the sky, community discussions, other events, etc.
Down the stairs onto the first floor, out the massive wooden doors of the front entrance. Sunlight shines on every block of stone, and an entire community strolls throughout the grounds of the idyllic campus with a destination in mind. Trees line the sun-baked slabs where many feet step, though some spots aren’t covered by tree-insurance. Shade for rest and chatting, sun for exercise and passionately complaining about the heat.
Walking the concrete, winding paths of his home for the next four years, through every steep and sweaty incline up to Parrish Hall, he always runs into a couple people who greet him by name. “Hey!”, “Hi!!”, and ”Good morning!”s ensue. He’s happy that people know who he is, but that joy slowly trickles into nothingness as they all walk away.
Classes finished. Now, what would he like to do? Free time is always enjoyable. The wide-eyed skies are blue like the ubiquitous green foliage. Lots of directions to go to connect with people! Lunch or dinner perhaps? A good ol’ fashioned hike in Crum Woods?
“Beep!” A vibration in his pocket makes him take out his phone. Upon being notified that his virtual dragons would like him to tend to the growth and reputation of their park, he sighs and shoves his phone back into his pocket, forlorn that it wasn’t a message from someone. He reminds himself that it is first and foremost his responsibility to engage in the community so as to develop trust with good friends. This could help him figure out where to go when he’s standing alone in the green beach of vast opportunity or at the edge of a gathering of people.
Previous Monday: Complaining about work and not getting enough sleep to himself. Tuesday: Outstanding chat with bestie academic advisor followed by tsunami of homework and bad day in performance class. Wednesday: Asked to eat lunch with someone and had a terrific conversation about anything and everything. Thursday: Drained of that infectious energy, hard to continue starting the first move.
All that work didn’t feel like it led to much, he thinks as he somberly braces against the surge of emptiness inside. Does no one appreciate his company enough to want to hang out with him because they enjoy it? He knows everyone on campus has many different friends but wonders what he must be doing wrong to feel so lonely. Why does it look like everyone walks with a group to Sharples, the Sci Center, Target? He knows walking alone to class is normal, but he wishes that he were like everyone else. Everyone else has that one group they can return home to. In that group, whatever they say makes the others joke with them, laugh with them, and feel that they’ve found people that appreciate them and are grateful to be able to hang out with such an amazing person.
Nothing new for the next few hours. Back uphill to his dorm, he concludes with a resigned aura of melancholy. “An anomaly outside the orbits of any group, because I’m never the perfect mass or ideal composition for any group to pay much attention to.”
The window outside is pitch black, save for the branch that lies so closely to the glass into his world. His eyes beg to close for longer than a couple minutes as the sounds of typing and erasing scatter into the darkness of a switch turned off. Just before he leaves this plane for a turbulent ride of unreliable sleep cycles, he reassures himself that he will find his people. He determinedly holds on to this hope; it’ll happen soon. He hopes this upon the nebula of stars on his wall.