Before today, I’ve never had reason to visit the building for law students at my school. As an English major, I’ve primarily remained around the English-oriented settings, with the occasional excursions outside to visit friends of other majors, all of them ending with me scurrying back to my English buildings to catch my breath. And as none of my friends have ever been law students (no judgement, I just haven’t met many in my primarily arts-oriented circles), I’ve never had reason to venture into that setting.
And if a need to find an outlet to plug in my cell phone hadn’t overcome me today, with the law building being the closest by, I still wouldn’t have visited it today.
From the moment I entered, I found myself stunned. It didn’t look like the rest of the school, I noted – or, at least, not any of the parts I had been in before. It was neat, large, spacious, bright – immaculate, like the office of some big business. Before today, I’ve always characterized my school as being rather cramped and dark, just a little bit on the messy side, but this… this was a whole new world.
I wandered around for a while, taking it in with probably more wonder than the space deserved. It was just a building, of course, but it was so different from the spaces that I inhabited that I felt incredibly out of place. With my dyed hair, piercings, and tattoos, I felt like I was visibly marked as Other amongst the people who felt like they should have been wearing suits instead of the typical student uniform of oversized sweatshirts and hoodies. And while I thought about the Otherness that I wore on my skin, I thought of the Otherness that surrounded me as well.
I thought about the fact that such an open, bright, neat space made me feel slightly uncomfortable, and why I felt more at home in the cramped, dark setting of the English buildings. Was it something to do with the different ways our mind worked? Did my mind, naturally attracted as it was to emotions and word and art, feel more at ease in the dark for whatever reason, and did their logical, analytical minds prefer the light?
Or did I feel more comfortable in the dark because that, to me, meant that it was an English-oriented space? The dark and the messiness promised books and discussion, and so it was my space. I owned it. But this space belonged to them. In this space, I was a foreigner, a visitor come not to learn, but to find a plug in for my phone.
Whatever the reason for my discomfort in this strange, office-like building, I found it interesting. I enjoyed being there, wandering amongst the strange but also very conventional rooms, peering in and wondering about the lives of these people with minds so different (and yet, probably so similar) to my own. They probably liked the neatness, I figured. They probably found my darkness unimaginable.