Campus at Midnight

“Now, I can walk in the amber light of the streetlights by myself.”
Photo by Julia Hoven

They’re all walking and talking and laughing and hugging and smiling and they’re all too beautiful. Light radiates from their bodies and as I look at each one, I imagine if I can guess what they are like, if I can understand their essence without ever having to speak to them.

It’s bright outside. It’s beautiful, but so bright. All these noisy, wonderful, expressive people all can look at me and they can see I don’t belong here in the light with them. They know I’m not a part of them and I know it too. We don’t exist in the same plane of reality. We share a common physical space, but the landscape of our minds  don’t intersect. At least that’s what it seems like from over here.

Maybe they all feel this way. Maybe only a few others do. I can’t look any more. My eyes are going to explode. It’s too bright. I turn my head down and look at my feet — at my toes wriggling in my shoes. I smile. I put my headphones on my ears, closing my eyes, looking into my mind to escape reality.

When I open them again it’s dark outside. Everyone who was out playing and existing together have gone back into the safety of their dorms, their bars, their frats. For the most part, it is empty. I share it only with the few others who make the night their home.

Now, I can walk in the amber light of the streetlights by myself. Now, I can take off my shoes, letting the grass tickle between my toes as I cross the Quad looking for fireflies. Now, I jump into the pool and splash around with whimsy. Now, I leave a chaotic dripping of footprints as I leave the pool to dance on the pavement.

The ambiance of the night envelopes me. Transformed from an architecturally designed space to house thousands of college students and their academic and social happenings, the campus is now a giant and quiet playground that exists solely for me. This physical space has been emptied of the noise and now all that exists is the beauty and tranquility of aloneness.

  • William Scott

    I feel the same way (just less eloquently). There’s something incredibly beautiful about seeing the contrast between something being so full of life and seeing the same scene completely devoid of all that noise and movement. It’s why my favorite part of home game weekends is walking around the quad early Sunday morning and looking at the aftermath of all the tailgaters.

  • Julia Hoven

    I took this one on the strip near Surin :)