I’m lucky to work for an awesome studio art department, and as a result, have lots of cool events I could go to on a regular basis. This weekend, a student/faculty show is opening at a local gallery/studio space AND the on-campus gallery is opening a show of photographs from war zones in Rwanda and Uganda. I’m hoping to find someone to go to these openings with me, since Jon’s working nights (SUCK). I just had this conversation with a coworker.
Him: You coming to the student/faculty opening tomorrow night?
Me: If I can find a friend to go with me! My husband’s working.
Him: Come with us, we’re friends, right?
Me: Sure! Are you going to the Halsey opening too?
Him: Well, it looks kind of depressing. You might need a hug after, and I’m not sure we’re THAT good of friends.
As I got on the bus, they giggled behind a Route 30 map. They wondered where they had gotten on, which stop was that? How would they know when they were supposed to get off? What if the driver didn’t stop? Should they ask the driver? Should they not? Aren’t these seats itchy? Doesn’t it feel like it’s giving you a rash?
It didn’t take me long to recognize them. They were me, about six years ago. Two new college roommates, who barely knew a soul and had just set up camp together in a tiny room on a big campus in a strange new city. They were clinging to each other and thinking they’d be best friends, not anticipating Cold Wars of attrition over who’d finally take out the trash, or that perhaps one of them would have an affinity for Jock Jamz while the other preferred Indie Rock, or that one might be nocturnal, and the other, well, normal. (OK, so I’m projecting, my first college roommate didn’t work out so well!)
I wondered if they’d been having scavenger hunts and raffles. If they’d endured an awkward sex talk with a dean. If they’d identified a cute boy that they thought they might like to date, having no idea that by the end of the next year he’d be a best friend, but more interested in dating men. (OK, so that happened to me too.) I wondered if there had been awkward name games. If they’d been to that first party yet, the one where they tested those mom-will-never-know-limits. I wondered if they’d just spent the summer meeting their true love, now left wondering what would happen next. I wondered if they were just SURE of their major, only to later change it three times. I wondered if they had any idea what was ahead of them.
Of course they didn’t.
But they had each other, they had a map, they were determined to make their way to Target, and they’d get there together. I helped them figure out where they’d get off, and I went back to my reading, eavesdropping on their conversation, smiling, realizing what was only six years ago for me already seems more than a lifetime ago.
The bus could barely contain their enthusiasm.
Last night, while waiting for dinner to finish simmering, I flipped open this week’s issue of the Charleston City Paper, our local alt-weekly. This issue is the annual “welcome back college kids” issue, with advice on cheap eats, good places to go for dates, and ways to spruce up dorm rooms. Basically all kinds of great Charleston tips that I can appreciate even though I’m not a college student any more, because I’m on a tight budget. As I turned the page after reading a piece on local thrift stores, I saw this ad:
I could have applauded.
See, so often PSAs about rape and sexual assault focus on the materials in the first part of the ad, the part that is aimed toward young women. The part that says, don’t wear that, don’t drink this, don’t go to these places, don’t be out after this hour, don’t hang out with these people. The feminist in me tends to think that the culture of fear we instill in our young women serves to help keep them under control. Just thinking about it makes me want to crank up No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” and bop along with my teen idol Gwen. “Don’t you think I know exactly where I stand? This world is forcin’ me to hold your hand!” (Seriously, I wonder how many other 20-30 year olds can point to that song as a major source of their feminist awakening.) Continue reading “finally, a decent PSA”