light up the lawn

from August and from my drafts folder.

The first time I went, I was a freshman. I had only lived on campus for a week, if even that long, and was eager to become involved in the school. A bit nervous too. It was the first event of the school calendar year.

The second time I went as a senior. I carried two cans of corn, one for me and one for Chris, as our entry tickets. We had walked from home to campus and could hear the recognizable, but now forgettable, cover songs being played by a live band. I tried a small dance on the sidewalk then playfully pouted when he didn’t join in. We arrived roughly five minutes after it officially started, but library lawn was already packed with bodies.

The library is the heart of campus. Deep orange-red bricks built up into wide arches and tall columns. Up, all the way up to the clock tower that chimes the school song—and Christmas tunes in the winter. At night the clock tower glows on and over the lawn stretches before it. Yard after yard of thick grass, manicured so particularly like golf course greenery.

That night, the lawn was compacted with long rows weaving up and down of booths and folding tables. Each pushed free items on us as we walked. A bank gave out highlighters, a club handed out frisbees, a church with pamphlets. “Where will you go after you die?” it asked. Chris kept the pamphlet to look at later but never did.

Everything was orange. The highlighters, the frisbees, plastic cups, posters, the tent covers and tarps, the balloons, and chalk on the pavement. Even the students were sporting their own orange: last season’s football shirts, the free tees from freshman orientation, you get the idea.

As it got darker, the grass became more and more trampled and and muddy. Ice cream wrappers and flyers sopped up much of the slick dirt. Some got into my sandals. The band changed to a woman soloist and surrounding lamp posts began to literally light up the lawn. We sat and listened and talked.

We left before the rain had shut down the mechanical bull.

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