I sometimes wonder if I’m the right student to have blogging as the student curator. The term has connotations. Connotations that I’m actively involved with campus life, that I’m someone always around, a student other students know. Connotations that there isn’t an event I’m not aware of, and that I’m relentlessly enthusiastic and never shy away.
Or maybe those are just the connotations “student curator” has for me.
Because, truly, while I am a Colorado College student, while I’m passionate and involved as much as my rather-exhausted body allows, the truth is, I rather read in bed or scribble in a notebook on a Friday night than venture over to Wahsatch or Weber.
On the Facebook CC Confessions page, a term has recently been coined: The Phantom 500, referring to the introverts on campus, the students that the others–the presumably normal students–never see because phantoms don’t go to events or parties or eat in Rastall. We are ghosts, floating the quads, randomly appearing in classes, or in the line at the Preserve, a mirage of students who exist somehow unseen and unacknowledged.
What a silly term, right? Talk about connotations of insignificance.
But again, maybe I’m jaded, as, despite my impacted schedule, all the incredible people I adore between Cache La Poudre and Uintah, and my seemingly endless campus wide obligations, I’m rather certain I’m one of the Phantom 500. And, you know, I wouldn’t change a thing. I may not be the most well known, most involved student on campus, but I feel nonetheless connected. Infinitely blessed. Still a member of this bizarree, fabulous community–even if I don’t have over a thousand friends on Facebook or go to the loudest house parties on the weekend. CC is still absolutely woven into who I am today.
I went to the senior dance theses performances last week. In the dark of the theatre, I was able to smile with hot wet eyes without explanation. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t stop grinning. And then I went to the advanced fiction reading three nights back, where I had to veil my face with my hair as I cried off and on, unable stop the warm sparks flicking down my spine. (Though, for the record, I’m an easy crier.) I don’t know why I so often feel the way I do, why I feel so much light on my skin when walking across Armstrong Quad, why I want to embrace CC students I don’t even know… but maybe it’s because we’re all threaded, we’re all connected, even us phantoms, we’re intricately a family in the most beautiful, absurd kind of way.
Does that make sense? Surely I’m not alone with these emotions. Maybe I’m just dramatic. You can call me dramatic. I promise I won’t be hurt. These feelings are just too intense, too real, not to share.
Before I was officially a CC student, back when I just a high school drop out taking summer courses as a “visiting student” in Summer 2011, I felt what I felt now as I walked home from a friend’s house on Wahsatch (a friend who graduated that same year). I felt the warmth, the spark, this insistent feeling I needed to come to CC, that I was meant to be here. And so, I wrote that night, wrote of my walk home and the overload of emotions.
My feelings then are still relevant today. If not more relevant, even as one of the Phantom 500, if such a group truly exists. Fair warning, in the summer of 2011–as I always have been and always will be–I was often incredibly cheesy.
A man sticks his head out of his van and says, “You doing okay?”
He passes me on Cache La Poudre and makes a U-Turn on Cascade due to my meandering walk being too slow, too content with the midnight mosquito parade, too at peace to be bothered to pick up the speed for safety’s sake. He passes me a third time, but now only observes. Simply lets his headlights flash on the green of my pants. Simply lets me continue on my wine heavy way.
Am I doing okay? Am I doing okay, Mr. CC Security Guard Who Hopes That I Will Be Accepted As a Full Time Student in January Because This Place Is Lovely Despite the Roaming City Kooks And I Am So Obviously Happy Here At CC?
“This is my home,” I will tell him later. “My home.”
Dear Andy, can’t you see? Can’t you see the gleam? Am I not floating down this entirely vacant street totally at ease? For the last six years I’ve tumbled from place to place in pursuit of an answer for what I should do, where I should be. Berkeley, Aix, Granada, Colorado Springs, Chipita Park, Umbria, Kinsale, Arcata, Orange County again and again and again, only to return to the most obvious yet seemingly unattainable place, Colorado College in Colorado Springs—this small intoxicating college where I once finally slept during 2010’s humid summer afternoons when insomnia made the nights resemble something numb and cruel, but here at CC, last year, 2010, dizzy on the grass of Armstrong Quad wishing that the quad was my place to be, a place to call mine, to call home, I finally found sleep.
And now, eleven months later, in a sense my wish has come true, as CC is finally my place to legitimately be. I can finally sleep on the quad legally with a student (visitor status aside) Gold Card and Student ID.
For the last six years, since bowing farewell to high school, I’ve stretched and yanked and screamed in pursuit of direction. Where? Where? Where? Nowhere fit. Contentment was a fantasy. Nothing beyond my word dribbles and Pikes Peak offered stability. No where stuck my swollen pieces together with the necessary bundle of mountains and academia and writing and companions and so I searched and searched and searched. But now I am finally here. Now it appears that I have found my glue.
I cross through Armstrong’s parking lot and walk across the quad. Mr. Security Guard now watches from his car on Cascade. I’m smiling, grateful for his protection, but also grateful that he hasn’t abducted me into his safe proximity, even as I cross the street and skip right in front of him, for the night is kind to me—the sagging shadowed cottonwoods, the warm muddy grass, Shove Chapel watching my back, and the row of orbs leading up to Cutler Hall. I question bowing down to Cutler’s front doors. Let me in, I’d whisper while kissing its stairs, let me in. I restrain myself, as I worry that my kneeling would alarm the still-watching CC Security Guard. And to be pulled away from the summer sky’s shine would be a tragedy.
The stars are what keep me aligned, watching me, giving me light to see campus, giving me words to think so I can express my gratitude, the words like drops of candle wax that slowly fill my ear reminding me to listen, always to listen, listen to what is unable to necessarily be heard, listen to the tsunami spinning within.
My mantra: I am here. I am here. I am here.
I approach Antero and Mr. CC Security Guard pulls up beside me in the roundabout.
“You doing okay, dear?”
“This is my home,” I say. “I am here.”
Obviously, lack of whispers aside, the powers that be accepted me as a CC transfer student the following December, despite my nineteen-year-old dramatic tendencies. And nearly two years later, I feel the same. Nearly two years later, I wouldn’t take back a day. Even the days that follow a mere 30 minutes of sleep. Even the days when I want to curl up on my hardwood floor and cry for a minute or three. Even on the hardest of days, I am blessed to be here. I only have a year and a month left at CC before I graduate, and success and opportunities and friendships aside, I will be most grateful for the blessing of always having the freedom to call Colorado College a home, a home that gave me the means to change my life.
So if you believe in the Phantom 500, know that some of us ghosts are no less entranced, no less woven into this tapestry of fabulous chaos that is life at Colorado College.
And speaking of summer… Summer on campus is an INCREDIBLE and MAGICAL thing. Take summer courses. Just do it. They are small and intimate and often outside and something like half cost and just simply wonderful. I for one will be here for all three blocks.