A hate letter to the bleachers, and a love letter to the world.

To the niche (just me) of long-range Low Steps observers, I see you.

The regrowth of leaves on that beautiful, but indecently large tree, with the added trepidation of the personally offensive construction of the bleachers has ended my vigil. I can no longer observe, no longer bear witness to the affairs of Columbia’s most behaviorally revealing location. Who will be there to speculate about your conversations and invent stories about your social lives? Sadly, not me. 

So, I set out to answer life’s newly most pressing question: if not watch Low Steps, what to do? This led to my most productive week yet this semester. I spent some time in East Asian, a nice change of pace from my usual studying done with a watchful eye on the steps. I finally started some final projects that had no steps involved. I went to office hours far away from the steps. I called my parents without mentioning anything stair-related. I wrote a non-steps-related Bwog article. I listened to music without using it as a soundtrack for the narratives I was creating around the people on the steps. I pinned photos of things other than stairs to Pinterest boards. I watched movies completely unrelated to stairs generally. I walked and walked around Riverside, through Central Park, down Broadway and Amsterdam, places unbeknownst to the Low Steps, as they’ve sadly never been.

I hung out on the steps myself a bit. If the steps were Nino Quincampoix, and I, Amelie, I stopped leaving notes and cryptic messages and finally met him. A beautiful romance ensued. I laughed with my friends in the very place I watched so many do the same. I seethed at the horrendous shade of blue chosen for the seats. I basked in the warmth like some sunbathing reptilian. I became the subject of my previous observations. 

I started to bear witness to marvels unrelated to the steps as well: flowers blooming and dropping their petals like snow, steam rising from my coffee cup, seniors in their blue gowns thinking too much about how they’re smiling, aerosolized orange oil bursting from an orange peel, strangers on first dates, raccoons. I asked people questions and listened to their answers. I listened to questions and answered in kind. Spring is so beautiful here. 

There were some bad moments—feeling stupid in a discussion section or lonely on a Sunday—and those felt just as much like marvels as everything else. The tree turned out not to be indecently large, but a marvel in its own right.

The bleachers are not marvels though, I think. They are ugly, and make it hard to walk around campus. They are steps themselves, but like the awful, evil version; barriers put up too early to inconvenience people. 

Anyways, it turned out to be a good thing, being in the world. 

The Tree via Bwog Staff