Lawrentian Gothic “The Great Escape”

Your craving for reasonably priced mac and cheese has become overwhelming and you’ve decided it’s time to take action. You know that Target is your best bet for some good, cheap food. It’s come to this — a trip off campus.

You’ve heard the horrid tales of students struggling to escape the “Lawrence Bubble.” You know that Jimmy was taken away in a white van after trying to pass Walgreens. He was returned a week later. Jimmy used to be so bright and vivacious. Now Jimmy just stares at walls. You miss the old Jimmy. You don’t want to be like the Jimmy now. And you definitely don’t want to be like Harriot, who hasn’t been seen since 2014 after she tried to bike to Target. Rest in peace, Harriot.

You pack your backpack, ready for your journey. Your roommate sobs for you to stay, but when you tell them you’re going to buy food off campus, they quell their tears and ask for coffee creamer. Once you’ve agreed and collected both of your money, they shove you out the door and you’re set to go.

You start down College Avenue towards Target. You ask the Appletownies the way to the bus. They pretend you don’t exist and shoulder past you. You sigh and give up on asking for help. You open your phone to Google Maps and bring up the bus station. A warning appears on your screen, “it’s not worth it.” You’re used to weird messages like this at this point in your Lawrence education, so you take a right and try to head down the street towards the bus. However, a force stops you from being able to continue. You turn back. There has to be a street that crosses the Lawrence-life barrier. You remember there being a back exit to the City Center, so you head there. You discover that you can slip through the back doors. Ecstatic, you race towards the station to grab the next bus to the mall.

Once you’re on the bus and have paid your dues to the faceless man behind the wheel, you try to sit on one of the brightly patterned seats. A sharp pain erupts as you make contact with the seat and are forced to stand up. On the overhead monitor flashes the message “Clothes too plain. Please try again with vintage clothes.” You are wearing sweats and a regular t-shirt. You are forced to stand and hold onto the pole, even though there isn’t anyone else on the bus. The bus starts up suddenly and begins chugging along. As the ride progresses, you wonder if the faceless man can even see. You decide to trust him and browse the Target website on your phone.

One long hour later, you arrive at the Fox Valley Mall. You enter Target, and immediately feel your soul leave your body. Your body is then lifted gently by a cashier and placed with the bodies of the other shoppers. As you lie among the abandoned bodies of the other consumers, you hope your soul will be a responsible spender.

An hour and a half later your soul returns to your body and you check your receipt. How on Earth did you spend $80? You scan over the long piece of paper and learn that you bought a throw pillow, a box of tacks, two new flannels, seeds, an inflatable flamingo, coffee creamer and a box of mac and cheese. You sigh and remember that you’ve done much worse. There was one time that your soul came back and you discovered you had bought an entire entertainment system. Another time you forgot everything you had originally come for, but managed to buy six boxes of Fruit Gushers. And who could forget the time you bought a minion backpack? The heart wants what the heart wants, I guess.

Despite having spent $80 on things you didn’t need, you feel rejuvenated. You walk to the bus stop and wait for the bus to return. It’ll be a long journey back.