Column by Katherine Speller

Katherine Speller
Katherine Speller

Sitting in Hasbrouck after a long night of not sleeping, I’m struggling to stay awake. I tried for a solid hour and a half to close my eyes but I’m on this wonky sleep schedule because I haven’t had class all week and have spent my time playing Doodle or Die and watching Law and Order: SVU on Netflix instead. I finally gave up when 7:44 a.m. rolled around. Bedtime just wasn’t going to happen.

I’m starting to feel a little creepy just sitting and watching everyone, but then I remind myself that no one really cares all that much about what I’m doing. Sitting alone makes most people feel really self-conscious because we’re all sort of delusional and are convinced that other people are judging us and that they actually care about what we’re doing while out in public.

I get that I shouldn’t feel any shame in creeping, but I chose a sort of inopportune seat that’s making me particularly anxious; I’m in one half of a booth that faces forward and there’s this guy sitting in the booth across from me facing right at me. We’re playing this little game where we each pretend our eyes aren’t darting around the room and frantically away from each other because we‘re located directly in each others’ line of sight. Solid.

Across the way, I see this girl from my hometown. She was friends with my sister, I think, and she graduated a year after me. She looks really young.

A lot of the other faces look really young. I mean, I know I can’t really talk because I’m only nineteen (officially, as of the day this thing gets published) but, gosh, they do look so very young. I caught my reflection in a particularly shiny bit of wall. I’ve got under-eye circles the size of a continent and I’m forcing down shit-tastic dining hall dark-blend to remain conscious, but I’m still so very young too. There’s a lot of possibility, yet-to-be-wasted potential, energy.

I can’t help but think about young faces and how sad it’ll be when they’re overrun by worry lines in a few years. Then I start to think about how sad it’d be if they never get to be overrun by worry lines. It’s overwhelming when I think of all the possibility, yet-to-be-wasted potential and energy in this one room and all the different wonderful  and horrible ways things can turn out for them. Soon enough, the sadness seems a bit more beautiful. These are the things people wax philosophical and write poetry about. These are the tiny little threads making up the big picture, whatever the hell that is.

I’ve been trying to sort out what I’ve picked up in my nineteen trips around the sun. I’d like to think it’s important to try and be as aware as I can of what’s going on around me: the young faces, the old faces, the people existing past my coffee mug through the haze of exhaustion. Somehow, I’m pretty sure these are things that matter.