It was cold. I wanted to cut through. Easy as that.
Mmmm not quite.
As is the way with this fickle North Carolinian weather, leaving for an event at 5 o’clock in shorts requires a second trip home for a snowsuit by 6. Thus, the story begins. I was heading from my dorm, newly dressed for the drastic temperature drop, and heading to meet my friends for a movie night.
This event just so happened to be on the other side of a “short stroll” through that blistering Lake Mary Nell wind chill, hence the new digs. Thumping down the steep sidewalk in my less than flattering yet toasty get up led me straight into a pickle. Erected before me was none other than the Center for the Arts.
Here was a building that was physically blocking the beginnings of an ideal Friday night for me. A building that I could either mosey around, therefore furthering my exposure to this dastardly 40-degree torture on my Home-Grown-in-South-Carolina skin, or I could just “cut through”. Cutting through the CFA entailed the creature comforts of HVAC-processed heat and ambient lighting and maybe a sip of water from the fountain if I was feeling extra lux. Aaaahh the possibilities. “Moseying around,” however, entailed- the bird poop smell.
Of course, I march right on in.
Let me stop for a quick second to refocus on that much needed warm outfit I had donned for this journey. Our narrator was wearing New York Fashion Weeks’ haute-est neux line! Fresh off the runway, Lauren sports a pair of food-stained leggings paired handsomely with a hand-me-down Yale sweatshirt (but this is Elon honey, ooh what a risk). The ensemble takes a bold turn with the accessorizing of a blanket- Christmas patterned. Street style has never been so boudoir-boho. Or should I say boho-ho-ho-ho?
Anyways, here I come, a giant pajama-ed slob, complete with Lakeside to-go box wreaking of fried okra and movie watchin’ blanket, bounding towards this building at top speeds.
Instant silence. Instant applause. Instant confusion from yours truly.
Your gracious narrator had accidentally interrupted a pre-show presentation of the BFA Dance recital that was taking place in the main hallway. Let me repeat, this absolute bull of a girl, looking like she didn’t just roll out of bed but pinballed out and into Lakeside for a to-go order of the worst smelling food ever, just knocked over allllllll the china.
Rather than make the tom-foolery any more obvious, as if the audience of that poor choreographer’s speech weren’t hyper-aware of my disheveled obnoxiousness already, my brain thought, “Don’t just freeze up looking mortified, hurry along!” And so, this catastrophe ever so slightly crept towards the crowd like a stoner to the pizza rolls.
The goal was to just continue on through the crowd and to my desired exit on the other side of this spiel. The outcome, however, was an uncomfortable series of start-stopping in attempt to leave at the right moment. All the while, a professor I know hawk-eyed me from across the crowd.
She feigned a smile towards me while not so subtly motioning for me to just cut through, to leave, to stop being distracting, but I was in too deep at this point. I had stood a hair too long. I missed my chance to scurry far too many times now. I was going to have to just wait. Here lies Lauren- death by Medusification.
For a few seconds, I grappled with my new life choice of being a spineless seeming-stoner when the topic of “minimalistic modern dance” became all too much and I downright just fled! My brain wasn't working, I had left it in the crowd, but I knew I wouldn't fall victim to quiet passivity if it meant sitting through a modern interpretation of minimized body movements!
And, just like that, I was back where I started, mourning the loss of those beloved HVAC systems. Feeling the cold shoulder poetically and physically- I continued on my journey.
Here’s a riddle for you: does following a sidewalk guarantee you passage towards another sidewalk or at least a path of some sort?
NO! Your humble adventurer made her way across the CFA's courtyard and down its only sidewalk. You know, sidewalks? Man's solution for trudging through the raw earth. And yet, what did I find at the end of mine? PINE STRAW. The pathway ended in pine straw! Seems like an easy foe, right? I could just walk over it.
BUZZZ, wrong again! This slippery straw lied atop the steepest of foothills, dotted with spiked leaf bushes, and swan poop mounds. At this point, ya girl started hollering.
Apologies to those who may have heard some obscenities about the inaccuracies of the architectural field while trying to enjoy some minimalist modern dance.
After what seemed like a Slip and Slide of the Centuries- in the pitch of the night, mind you, I made it to my next trial.
A quick yet applicable tangent- the Memery family matriarch is notable for a few things: grade A cooking, her collection of “Pioneer Women” kitchen accessories, her adoration for the fat family dog, Izzy, and her gripping phobia of birds. Psychology will tell us that through the social influences of operant conditioning, humans are susceptible to learn the lessons that others have learned.
Your friend cuts their finger playing with a knife, so you learn to not play with knives to avoid their consequence. This law is most prominent with behaviors passed down from parent to child. In conclusion, in my eyes thanks to my mother- Becky is Satan.
Becky "The Swan" Lambert is a usual suspect around Elon's premises. She's the swan, the myth, the legend. You've heard the whisperings of her eating baby ducks, or how she would charge oncoming cars for trespassing on her swamp. Yes. That Becky. That Becky who caused this young adventurer to flee up the hill many a time to avoid her horror-drenched honk. Once more, I was nose to beak with this monstrous fiend, but this time, there could be no fleeing.
The slap of webbed feet couldn’t mask my thumping heart. Even though I thought it, this wouldn’t be the end. Your petrified hostess tip-toed past the bird, all the while whispering tentative “…nice Becky…. Good Becky… please don’t attack my feet Becky…” until the ornithological coast was clear. Safely past, I bid my gracious gatekeeper adieu, and promptly sprinted away as fast as these ham hocks of legs could book it.
Post pulse-checking, to ensure I wouldn't keel over from a heart attack, I realized I was gracing the presence of the light at the end of the tunnel. The Oaks apartments stood majestically in front of me. I was home free! Crossing the street and bounding up the Oaks' stairs was a blur. Until, finally, my friends, huddled around a destroyed box of Dominoes, sat unknowingly of my arduous quest. Brimming with the story of the century, I was met with our conclusion.
The movie night got canceled because they didn't have an HDMI cord.
Girls glided around cleaning up the remnants of pizza while I dragged myself towards my friends and, defeated, word-vomited the tale of my endeavors.
As I sat with the last remnant of my friend group, Annie, stewing over my slice of cheese, (I will add, I was finally burrito-ed into my blanket, so at least there's that) I reflected on the night. And in that reflection, the humor of it all finally showed itself. The pizza tasted better, the blanket felt warmer, the absurdity of the night made everything that went right more meaningful.
If meaning is to be pulled from this fiasco of a walk, then it would be this: life is made in the journey, not in the destination.
This has been a lesson I’ve been struggling with recently, constantly counting down the minutes to the good stuff like Spring Break and my birthday, and I have not been enjoying the memories to be made within those minutes. This story will ultimately be just one of many silly blips within the course of my life, but it’s in those blips that we make memories that make the journey through life a wild and worth-it ride.
Even if it means ruining minimalistic modern dance for 40 something people.