In the words of Spongebob Squarepants, “At least I’m safe inside my mind.” Perhaps Columbia University is just a state of mind.

As the fall semester dwindles and promises of in-person spring loom in the realm of uncertainty, my uncharacteristic yearning for campus continues to grow. Seeing as I don’t live in New York City and don’t plan on returning to campus any time soon, I must turn to unconventional remedies for my longing.

Now, I may not have many talents, but I am quite skilled at existing in any timeline but the present. Ekhart Tolle is cringing.

Mastering the blank stare is one thing, but learning to travel through space and time all within the mind is a whole new beast. I like to start by fixing my gaze on a point in the distance, usually an inanimate object, and envisioning myself on the streets of New York City. At this point, the smell of piss and gasoline usually wafts through my nostrils—this is how I know the quantum leap has occurred.

I’ve compiled a list of the best places on campus to dissociate to. Hopefully this helps you in your journey across the astral realm.

  1. The stairwells in Milstein: I’m particularly fond of these stairwells because of their relative anonymity and mystique. The floor-to-ceiling windows facing Claremont contrast nicely with the industrial vibe of the stairs. This space is just liminal enough to serve as an access point for your mental travels. (Bonus: this is one of my favorite places to cry on campus!)
  2. The bathrooms in the basement of Schermerhorn: This is another portal of sorts through which you can figuratively enter campus. I’ve only ever seen one other person in this bathroom, and she was brushing her teeth with a toothbrush that someone else had left on the sink. This bathroom screams Twilight Zone, making it the perfect dissociation destination.
  3. The John Jay grain bowl line: There’s no better time to mentally check out than when you’re waiting in line. After a long day of ignoring my surroundings in class, I like to finish my nights by zoning out while waiting in line for dinner. If you get good enough, you can even look right through the person making your grain bowl while simultaneously picking out toppings! It’s all in the technique.
  4. That big building across from Butler that’s not a library anymore: Upon writing that description, I remembered that the building is called Low. I clearly have not been on campus in a while. I’ve only been in Low once, but I could’ve sworn it was The Franklin Institute. This building contains secrets, and I am intrigued.
  5. The vending machines in the basement of the Barnard Quad: Absolute prime location. Stale, overpriced snacks, horrible fluorescent lighting, linoleum floors, and first-years sitting on the floor on the phone with their moms crying. 10/10.

Next time you’re at work, school, a wedding, or anywhere else you’d rather not be, just remember your new mental power.

Butler via Bwog Archives