A dear friend of mine, a resumer at Mills in the final semester of her senior year, has done the unthinkable. She’s just about Benjamin Button-ed her college experience. She has, for this final home stretch, moved INTO the dorms. The accepted logic goes that dorm life is something you do at the beginning, because you have to, because it is part of the college tradition.
It’s good for us to learn to live-with-others and meet-our-peers. Post-dorm-life, our roommates will be one or two or three at the most, not an ENTIRE hallway of people we love, hate, and see in pajamas. But it is in the dorms that we learn how to use Ikea furniture to great effect, how to cook ramen and how to not bogart all the beers.
Not to say that beer is a standard part of campus life. We are Mills women after all. In honor of my dorm-iciled friend, I hereby list some of what does comprise campus life these days. Here, in no particular order, are three current absurdities that keep this
Number one, the great feral cat controversy. Anyone who has walked across the green at dusk knows about the prowlers. What I love most is that this population constitutes a scandal. Our own version of US Weekly would have a picture of a skittish cat with hair-on-edge along with the caption: “Mills campus starts transforming C students into CATS!”
I actually overhear impassioned conversations about the campus felines. To feed or not to feed? To catch and release? It’s sort of a metaphor, catch and release – it kind of sums up the college experience (dorm life, again), but with a lot more knowledge (and not just on how to decorate with Swedish tinker furniture) garnered in the caught part.
Number two, our new Crepateria. Don’t get me wrong; I kind of love our new frilly Suzie’s. It is perfect for The Charm Academy. The cupcakes and truffles make it like waltzing into a scene from the movie Chocolat, and I keep expecting Juliette Binoche to pop out from beyond the counter and offer me a life lesson along with my nutella.
Number three, The Vagina Monologues at Mills. Really? Mills puts on The Vagina Monologues? Cause that is what Mills needs more of. Monologues. And vaginas. I mean it’s not like I was expecting a performance of Glengarry Glen Ross, what with David Mamet’s brilliantly realized female characters. Although I kind of would like to see that show done with all women. Suck that, David Mammogram.
Of course, looking back to number one, we could just bite the bullet and actually put on Cats! Given the normal touchy-feely atmosphere of this campus, it’s not like we need to hear more about how our vaginas feel, or what food they would be (as of this writing, ramen noodles, if you wanted to know). But still, hasn’t anyone considered Wendy Wasserstein? And all these absurdities are part of why I love Mills – I am a great believer in finding the absurd sublime.
There are some hidden spaces on the geography of our campus that are purely sublime. These are the spots where we sneak off to study, or to eat our lunches (when they come in a less messy form than crepes), or the places we just go to, you know, think. My favorite space?
The Greek-like amphitheater behind the music building. With its circular set of rising communal seats, its thin blades of grass growing up between cracks in the concrete, its basin-like stage. It is a hidden gem. A quiet secret space that for me always suggests the possibility of echoed sound. When I sit in the stands, listening to the birds and the breeze, I feel like I can hear the haunting invisible chorus of Mills women.
Sure, sometimes they sing of their ladybits. Who doesn’t, from time to time? And sometimes, sitting there, I see a cat slink its way across the stage, avoiding being caught, or for that matter, released. Just for a moment enjoying a hidden spot on our sublime campus.