At the Cage, textbooks lay on my table with their binds bent. Pencils scatter themselves across loose leaf sheets of notes I’ve taken, and my tea spoon soaks in coffee, leaning casually against the side of my mug. It’s midday and I am organizing an alternative low-fi playlist perfect for Sunday study sessions and just long enough to distract me until my 1 p.m. lunch plans with my freshman year roommate. The ambience is cozy and relaxing. It’s moments like these when I am reminded of how much St. Olaf feels like home.
I’ve developed a recent crush on fiction writing. In fiction, I can pretend I focus well with music, drink coffee and talk to my freshman year roommate. In fiction, I don’t have to avoid running into my ex-boyfriend at the Cage. It is so much easier conforming to this theoretical concept of an “Ole” than confronting the fact that I do not feel as though I fit at this school, so fiction can make me seem palatable for you. The girl I describe myself to be – studious at the Cage – is agreeable. She is written exactly how she should be. Or not. If I wanted to, I could make the story less agreeable.
The ambience is cozy and relaxing. It’s moments like these when I am reminded of how much St. Olaf feels like home.
Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. My phone vibrates against the table, shaking my notes. Clicking the power button with my thumb, I unlock my phone to skim the notifications from my friend. A few words stick out to me: “accident”, “help”, “hospital”. Before I get a chance to reply, the buzzing begins again. I answer the call. Screaming. Wailing. All I can decipher is “Old Main”, so I stuff my work clumsily into my backpack and race towards the building my friend called out to over the phone.
I scurry along the pavement forgetting that my feet are half-a-size too small for my shoes. With one swift misstep, I fall face first onto the ground. Hard. My whole body stings and I do not get up right away. Instead, I let my limbs rest at awkward angles undisturbed.
A lot more uncomfortable, right? Just as quickly as I created the quaint Cage scene, I took it away. Fiction writing is a powerful tool to garner emotion, and it has been rather therapeutic for me when I don’t get my way. In fiction writing, I can make the impossible happen. I get a do-over. I can time travel or visit any place in the world. Or I can study at the cage with coffee, textbooks and loose leaf sheets of paper strewn about. Maybe I can use fiction to convince myself that St. Olaf could one day feel like home. But for now, I guess I will just have to play pretend.