Big Brother is watching you, but not in the way you think… 

When I stand right next to the AC unit, letting the cold air blast into my face, I can see all the way across the steps of Barnard Hall, graze the top of the wrought iron gates, swoop over the swampy expanse of Futter Field, all the way to Milbank. Streams of people flow by, opposite currents crashing into one another, converging into a whitewater torrent, like the Colorado down the Grand Canyon. In the mornings, I look past the brick and glass to the sky, gauging the sun (or lack thereof) for temperature, wind, rain. But then I’ll look over the windowsill, down at the swarms below, students traipsing by, totes over their shoulders, umbrellas swinging uselessly, platforms stomping in puddles, headphones clamped on. Maxi skirts, denim jackets, tank tops, baggy T-shirts, flared jeans. It’s like a little fashion show, red brick and puddles marking the catwalk, and I’m one of those influencers who somehow found their way to the sidelines of the runway. 

The tides ebb and flow, rise and recede. 10 am and sometimes around 3 or 4 pm is the busiest, the gravity of the moon pulling people out of the depths of classrooms and libraries, beckoning them to the next great adventure (aka American Lit). Everyone has a place to be, or at least most of them do. Maybe some of them are just wandering aimlessly, trying to pass the awkward half hour between classes.

From my vantage point high up in my tower (let me live out my fairytale dreams okay), I’ve witnessed friends reunite after a summer apart, scream and embrace each other beneath the trees, jump around in little circles as they catch up on jobs and family and dogs. I’ve watched as friends part ways, waving goodbye as they walk away, one out the gate, the other up the steps. On certain Friday and Saturday nights, I hear yells and laughter, the murmurs of gossip and drunken confessions, piling up like warm laundry, fuzzy like sequins and dryer sheets. On those nights, I’ll see figures in satin-y tank tops and high heeled boots march arm in arm beneath the lamp light, off to the real Next Great Adventure, while I sit munching on Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups in my sweats. Applause to you guys, really. 

This window is like the frames of a film reel, the images that make up the middle bits, between the musical crescendos, the ones no one remembers except as they happen. They flick by, lasting a fraction of a second. Each image, every snapshot, is an artifact of a new beginning I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to piece together. I look out and see the waves of people swell and contract, flowing like water in and out of the gates, down the brick road, pooling in rooms lit by fairy lights and computer screens, dragged in by this net tangling us together. And who all somehow have an impeccable sense of style.

The View (not the show) via Author