Back to campus
Like a needle and thread, like a ball of dough,
We all want to be needed.
I nod as I walk past, addressing a stranger,
He mutters past, stops, looks stricken, walks on, muttering,
And I wonder where he sleeps.
I wander across campus,
I have exactly 8.5 minutes to get from class if I leave in a brisk walk and book it to Fraser.
Did I leave my lunch bag back in Hayworth?
Nope, it’s right here, next to my phone, behind my laptop.
I used to ask if my friends needed me,
I was double checking.
I didn’t want to be a burden,
But more than anything,
I couldn’t tell.
I walk behind the Union, through Marvin grove, my favorite place on campus,
Potter’s Lake shimmers a radiant cold in the frost,
I sit outside for a few minutes in the grass, swipe my phone for new updates or messages, go inside.
The grass looks like the frost over sweet pea vines.
This one time I went and hid with my sister when there was a particularly bad fight at my dad’s house,
We crawled up into a hole the dogs had dug in the Forsythia hedge,
And refused to come out.
Lauren left before I did,
But I just stared at the little yellow flowers,
And pretended I was somewhere very far away for a few minutes longer.
I think of garlands a lot,
And what you can make them out of.
Wreaths of forsythia,
A crown of thorns,
Not so different sometimes, I think.
But I hope that the day I get married, I can wear a crown of flowers,
Or that I can weave them into my hair somehow.
I step onto the bus,
The flock of people is too sheep to hedge towards the end of the bus,
People stand in the cold,
Do you need so much “personal space”, really?
As long as you don’t make eye contact, it’s not so weird to have less,
Let me worry about my classes a little longer,
The big project we have due in Bio,
The dumb series of quizzes my professor assigned, flippantly,
With no regard to my drinking schedule.
Let me walk by the people who are tabling for some righteous cause too quickly,
I know how to not make eye contact,
But if they speak to me,
I will say something short, trite, and polite,
As I keep walking.
Let me continue to be proud of every decision I make, as if I own all of them,
By my special choosing,
Or my special specialness
Which makes me immune to disappointment.
Well, no, I don’t want a free t-shirt,
But I would like to care less, just for a bit,
While I figure out what crevice of campus I’d like to inhabit this semester.
Why do you roll your eyes at me? Should my interests stay monotonously the same?
I don’t want to wake up at 40 and realize that 4 years of the Chem Club did me no good,
When I’m told to pack up my things on a Friday afternoon.
Let’s pretend the world isn’t changing,
And while you do that,
I will be wandering around campus,
Meeting and talking to new people,
Adding their tiny details to my mental lexicon of all the people I know,
And the clandestine facts I can recover by merely focusing and letting the stress leave.
It doesn’t always work perfectly,
But it isn’t “normal”, as my mom would say,
It’s better than normal to be able to remember like that.
You know what? What semester plan are you trying to sell me this time?
I recognize that most people probably have good intentions,
And to me, that is beautiful.
But I also know how to spot a liar from a mile away,
And I just spend less time in the places they congregate,
If I pass through those places at all.
It’s some sort of false juju,
The need to please, fake, airbrush, and suntan makes me a little sick,
And it’s not because I have any kind of personal vendetta against people,
It’s just that the need to be needed can’t be reconciled with the need to need more,
And I think that is beautiful.
I wonder who paid to get their name left off of that building over there?
Not even the internet will tell me,
Not even my free speech will protect me, any more.
Hope you’ve got enough spare change for a lawyer,
Or do you want to tell me again that I’m just paranoid?
It would be better to tell a tiny truth left incomplete,
Than to not even acknowledge so much of what we live with.
I’m happy to be able to be proud of where I live,
But the United States’ “Most drunk city” for the 2015 year,
In some stupid editorial I had to drift through upwards of 10 times of Facebook,
You don’t even know this place, except in terms of escapism and novelty.
This is my home,
I am ashamed to have so little to share with you.
I just want to do my job,
Whatever that is,
The need to serve and serve with is part of me, running through my veins,
Instead, I will just be me,
And see where God takes me this new year.
I like leaving it an open ended question,
It gives me a certain measure of peace.
But, back to campus in just three days,
I have missed it.