There are few moments of self-awareness more potent than when you’re sitting in a university study space on a Saturday afternoon, mumbling across the table to your friend that in Accounting 312, the budgeted flexible budget is the more budgeted budget of the budgets. Running on inadequate sleep and from a verifiable Statistics 371 crisis, I acutely felt my already tenuous grasp on sanity begin to slacken. We’d only been working in the space for two hours, and I already had to… budge it.
(My sleep deprivation thinks that’s funny, thank you very much. It naturally gets its poor sense of humor from me.)
Me: I’m done with Accounting. Or, more accurately, it’s done with me. Wanna go to Xian Noodles?
Friend: Shouldn’t we go when we can actually enjoy it?
Me: So, never.
We took a moment to feel even sorrier for ourselves and walked outside. The muggy breeze stuck to the skin. It felt like an extra layer of someone else’s sweat. I opened Lyft on my phone and set the destination to Xian Noodles. A couple dots—available drivers—blinked onto the screen.
Me: We should go.
Neither of us moved a muscle. The stoplight flickered red, and the walk signal to cross into west campus appeared. We trudged mindlessly across because it was easier than thinking about where to go next. One block in, we reached the point where I’d turn south toward my apartment and we normally would’ve parted ways. We kept going straight.
Friend: Where are we going?
Me: Nowhere. Away.
Friend: Okay, yeah. Let’s take a walk!
Me: Maybe if we keep walking, we’ll reach the end of the world.
Like, walk off campus and just never come back. Takes running from your problems to another level, as now you don’t even have to break a sweat.
We passed by the off-campus Subway that’s been robbed four times and counting just this semester. The lights were dimmed. I made out the outline of an employee at the register and wondered what the pay premium was for involving yourself in someone’s oddly personal vendetta against ten-inch subs. The thrill of it, maybe.
Walking through deep west campus—the area west of the university with seedy restaurants and seedier student housing—also was, peculiarly, a thrill in itself. The further in we got, the further the area departed from civilization. Sirens blazed through the streets. Cars sped around blocks with complete disregard; around campus, college students had the power because they were too miserable to care whether they got hit by a car, but in west campus, college students were also the drivers.
The air was rank with 6PM beer breath. My friend and I skirted around a sports bar and throngs of early party animals. Seven guys dressed in sports jerseys, khakis, and unwarranted confidence shouldered their way past us. Up ahead was a gaggle of girls with shimmering gold V-neck tops and knee-high Go-Go boots. Some rager tonight, the theme of which I couldn’t decipher.
The last time I’d ventured this far into west campus was for a fundraising pancake night I thought was hosted at a restaurant until I realized “Pike House” actually referred to a fraternity’s place. Pi Kappa something, it’s all Greek to me. I hadn’t even made it to the line before a red convertible almost backed into a mailbox, which I’d taken as my cue to leave.
Stepping through the dark puddles in concrete dips, we passed the Pike House and kept going. I adjusted the straps of my backpack and wondered if this was how the early nomads lived.
After walking for at most twenty minutes
Me: I feel like a wanderer. A stray.
Me: An itinerant, I belong nowhere.
We reached the curving main road, marking the end of west campus, before I could get even more ridiculous. My friend and I slowed our unnecessarily brisk pace at the stoplight, watched cars roar by for a minute as we contemplated why we’d just spontaneously walked to nowhere, and laughed. The bubbly, manic kind that’s hard to capture. I took a screenshot of our position on Google Maps before we turned around to hike back the direction we came, oddly chuffed by the pointlessness of it all.
And that’s when we saw we had been walking downhill the whole way.
So this was a bit different from normal–let me know what you think and I’ll consider never doing it again. I don’t post about my actual life beyond a few snippets, so you don’t know a lot about me and I know even less about you. Tell me what’s up in your life! No actual obligations, though–I’m regularly shamed about how lame I am every time someone asks about my weekend plans during small talk.
Anyway, please consider following this blog via email and/or liking its Facebook page, where I post occasional life updates and quality excuses for the lack of said life updates. Oh, and find me on Instagram, too.