My third week of my final semester of college, where I trash talk Shakespeare via What’sApp and GroupMe with my closest companions, a bevy of English majors are lamenting under the weight of text that is centuries old. The bright light is our Ethnic Lit class, where we’ve just completed a unit of the work of Ken Liu; discovery is a delight, discovery is what I’m here for, to be exposed to work I’d not been as yet.
Seriously, Shakespeare? Analyzing words that are not of today’s vernacular? It’s a burden.
I have long been a misanthrope, it may have set in while a toddler, when that first kid threw her first fistful of sand in my face; when remote learning became a reality, the opportunity not to be around people was almost a gift. While at first I enjoyed learning online—I enjoyed the convenience of it, I enjoyed never having to wear anything but my pajamas, I enjoyed never having to leave my home, I enjoyed being able to get water or use my own bathroom at my leisure—, it wore off within a blink. Learning online has its perks, indeed it does, but I much prefer learning and being in the classroom, being being the operative word. I miss the smell of strangers, that dude who forgot to wear deodorant or put too much cologne suffocating me in the elevator. I miss the playful lilt of a woman, I miss the regional accents of my New Yorkers, the ones from Long Island and the ones from Brooklyn, and my homies from Queens. I miss making eye contact, I miss judging what people have on, I even missed being crowded in the Baruch elevators, stopping on every floor, everyone trying to stuff their bodies on as if another elevator won’t be on its way. I have realized, in lonliness, that what I long for is to be back at school, in the classroom, and I am grateful to have come to that conclusion, as I approach my final semester at Baruch.