It’s strange how the world changes over night here. Just yesterday it was sunny and full of life. Now it is cold, wet and gray. I walked across a gloomy slow paced campus with the lampposts still lit and students dragging along in their coats and carrying umbrellas above their heads. Most had colors, but they still didn’t seem colorful.
I seldom look people in the eye, but today I happened to look up and straight into those of a guy about 20. He was dark haired, light complected, and looked somewhat confused. I probably looked confused as well because of the unexpected entrance into my life through the passageway my eyes, as most people’s eyes, hold. It felt like an intrusion, an unwelcome visitor into my world. It was as if someone were peeking in my home window. Maybe that is what they mean by “your eyes are the windows to your soul.” I needed to shut him out, close the curtains. I looked down and walked on.
I approached the Humanities building with my head down. I really didn’t use sight very much to get there nor to realize I had arrived. I know the path so well that I could do it with my eyes closed. Plus, you smell Humanities a long time before you get to the building itself. The smokers sit outside the main entrance and the cloud chokes the majority of the passersby.
I hate to admit it, but the smell of cigarette smoke brings back feelings of nostalgia for me. Memories of a time long past flood my mind to the point that I cannot separate them out individually, but I know it’s simply old associations from childhood that I find some comfort in. It is hard to weed out the good from my past when it was so full of pain, but there had to be something that caused me to continue on, something that made that smell the opposite of what it should be.
I climb the stairs to the second of four floors (not including the basement). I walk slowly, as if in another world. I don’t feel like I am really where I am. I know that on both sides of the hall students surround me. Some even look at me not because I’m interesting, but because their eyes have nothing else to look at and their bored minds hunger for some association and a familiar face and conversation. They look my way, examine me, decide that I am not anyone they know, and then look to the person behind me. It is like this in that dull period right before class starts, the previous class is still in the room so you can’t go in and sit down, there is no reason to go over your notes, and there is not enough time to finish a song on your MP3 player. Hall time purgatory.
A girl comes my way and blocks me from passing. Not purposely, of course, but nonetheless, it is an annoying obstruction. I pretend I don’t mind and look up at the clock, but in reality I am running late and in a hurry to get to philosophy. I want her to get out of my way, but I just smile politely and wait for her to choose a way around me that I am not taking. We do that dance that happens when one person and another are in colliding path and one tries to move around the other, but the other keeps moving in front. After about two tries, I pointed right and she went left.
The damn clock was wrong. I walked into Philosophy early.
This isn’t the earliest time I’ve gotten into the room, but because of the sudden change of weather I suppose, many had decided to take the day off. The desks that usually hosted faces that triggered the “I’m in the right class” response were abandoned, and behind these empty desks were people I had never seen before because I’d never looked beyond the heads of those closest to me . I felt out of place. I sat my books down at a desk that I hoped was my correct seat, and then left the room wanting to look as if I went to the bathroom or for some water. I really just went into the hall to double check the room number . Still, I was already out so I went ahead and drank some water.
I saw someone who was in my next class. His name is Stan; he and his wife are nontraditional students and pets of the communications department. I planned to skip the next class, but now I was worried he would tell the professor he saw me in Humanities. I hated the thought and the fact that I knew he was a busy body who would, asked or not, say something about my not being there. I was pissed. Pissed at the rain, pissed at the guy who met my eyes, pissed at the smokers, pissed at the memories, pissed at the stair climb, pissed at the hallway lurkers, pissed at the girl who blocked my path, pissed at the absent students, pissed at the present students, pissed at the tap water and pissed at Stan.
Forget class today. I went, grabbed my books and started to walk toward the back stairs.