It was 10:30 p.m., and I was leaving Brokaw Hall to go home. I was alone. The evening had been a series of disappointments resulting from my misplaced faith in other people’s company. It just wasn’t as fun as I wanted it to be. I put my headphones in, grumbling about the night being over and having to spend it alone in my room as I’d done the night before. I knew people were gathering all over campus. Night by night, we comfort ourselves into a deeper sense of normalcy. Every weekend, I try to spend one night in and one night out so as not to rush the transition. It seemed to be going slower than expected.
Walking across Drew Street and up to Ormsby Lake, I turned the volume up until I
couldn’t hear the honking and backfiring of cars on College Avenue. There were a scattered few people walking on the green, enjoying the cool night air, and I turned the volume up so I couldn’t hear their voices. But I wasn’t trying to drown them out. I simply pressed mute on the world so I heard nothing but myself.
So I knew no one would care if I lay down in the middle of the lake. I’m a college student, it’s 10:30 on a Saturday night, and I have no one expecting me home. I am in no hurry. I owe time to no one but myself.
I don’t want to see you smile. I want you in the morning, before you go performing.
I lay down in the grass and thanked my past self for grabbing a flannel when I left. I could feel the give of the grass beneath me, but not the tickling of it against my skin. The earth was soft and cool and forgiving. It held me. The great thing about any vast space like that is when you lie down and look up, at the edges of your vision you can see the top of every tree and building on the horizon. The sky no longer surrounds the earth; the earth frames the sky. So I watched the clouds pass. Dark grey smudges over a deeper black. Each drift could reveal a star, or a planet, lying in wait. They would peek out, and shine on me, before hiding away again. The longer I watched, the more stars I saw that I couldn’t see before.
And I think we’d survive in the wild. We’d eat plants and roots and dream about electric fans.
I realized I was having fun. Stargazing, grass bathing, listening to a song I always want to send to someone when I hear it. When we love things, we want everyone to love them. We lift them up to the world and say isn’t this amazing? But people never love things quite as much as you do. And you’re disappointed. Why wasn’t that enough? And then you’re confused because their feelings don’t change yours, don’t change the amount of love you were holding before you held it up to them. But I loved that song.
I stayed in the lake and held myself up to nothing. There was no person in the sky to show myself to; in fact, there were no people at all. It was just the grass and the horizon and the clouds, and me, getting chills.