It’s the kind of evening that makes you want to lie down on concrete and stare at the sky until the back of your head starts to hurt from the ground pulling on your hair, and your eyes make dark spots in the sky from the brightness. The kind of night where you wander among disused metal poles stuck in cracked concrete, the white paint flaking off where someone stuck a piece of tape to it and someone else pulled it off again. It reminds me of what I thought it would be like when I got here. I imagined days and nights much like this, classes in high-tech buildings made of glass and metal and concrete, where the fluorescent lights glint off your watch face as you make sure that you’re not too early, that you’re avoiding eye contact, that you’re not lost. I thought of nights like this, when the sun has just gone down and everything is shadowless and bright and blue, wandering past buildings where the hallways are deserted and the office windows have lights on behind their shutters. The hallways are full of flyers for things that I could go to, but probably won’t. They’re hand-drawn in ink, photocopied on colored paper. The shading is good, but the proportions are off, and there are little flecks of color in the black where someone was filling something in and then decided it was good enough. You can tell they got the person with the nicest handwriting to do it. The lettering’s bold, like every stroke is really two with a thin pen, and they even added serifs. They could have typed it, but of course, Microsoft Word is sitting under an LED lamp on someone’s cheap PC laptop, a document open with just a name and the professor’s name at the top. The room is dark except for the orange and red and blue lights from a ten-dollar disco ball from Wal-Mart, glinting off of exactly twenty-four cans of beer. Is that enough? No one knows, they’re freshmen. I guess they’ll find out. The computer speakers are blasting MGMT, but there’s no bass and they drown in the voices of people. Downstairs, there’s a saggy couch in a tiled hallway under a bulletin board decorated with palm-tree cutouts. There’s one person on the couch. He wishes there were another one. The lights are cold and they flicker sometimes. The walls are purple and green and orange when they aren’t grimy desaturated beige. There are no primary colors here, although there is a guy from Canada who will debate with you at length about why “colour” should be spelled with a “u”. The laundry room door is painted red, it’s got a square little window in the middle with those reinforcing wires that keep it from exploding if you punch it or whatever. It’s covered with bumper stickers, flyers, ads, printouts of lolcats, random scrawled scrapings ranging from the Nietzschean to the obscene. College is like high school, except you can say “shit” in class, and no one cares. The lights are cold, and they flicker sometimes. Outside it’s dark, and the world is very large, and you’re standing on an edge of it. But when the light is on, and you try to look out, you see your face staring out of the blue blackness, and you say to yourself… so the light stays on, and people crowd together for warmth and laughter, their smiles reflecting off each other’s eyes until they forget how they got here. Their voices keep me awake.
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No, he isn’t mine. But this basically made my day.