Day Twenty-Two: The Beginning of Winter Break on Campus

by Tom Noonan

Cool rain sits like bile on the lawns of Princeton’s campus.  It won’t support even a step without letting you sink in.  You’ll track the mud all through your dorm room, and some of it will linger on your carpet.

I’m trying to make it back to my room but keep getting distracting by hands of poker at an eating club on Prospect.  Everyone at the table believes in their chips.  It’s a social contract for addicts, which we all are, of course.  It’s not about power, but it certainly feels like it.  Every game has this same connotation.

I drift in and out of sequence with the songs playing over hidden speakers, their substance held over me like a spotlight.  I’m incapable of hiding in the music, like I tend to do while on the train or any form of public transportation.  I derive import from the lyrics; they provide separate parts that fit into a larger, contrived story.  It’s not unlike Rob Fleming’s mixtape tutorial in High Fidelity.  I just attempt to curb the condescension.

The walk back to our dorm is quiet.  The campus is empty.  It feels, for a moment, as if we could embrace all the world if we just stood still.  But we keep walking, through the light fog, and into the dim lighting of our entryway.