Last Monday, it rained. My roommate and I knew it would, even before opening the blinds, because our carpet started getting moist and our posters started to slouch and sag.
I’m walking to Frist Campus Center, where I have a meeting. In my hands, I have a freshly baked chocolate-chip cookie from Murray-Dodge Cafe wrapped in a napkin. I approach the exit gates of Prospect Garden. I can see the columns outside of Frist, plastered with posters advertising drag balls and a peer nightline.
Two people I recognize walk in my direction. In a feat of coordination, half my body leans towards them to say 'hi', while the other half decides to throw my cookie in the trash. I stumble, then slip on the smooth slate the trash bins are on. I’m certain I could have caught myself had my bag not been stuffed with every textbook I own. The weight of my bag, combined with the apparent inability of my left brain to communicate with my right, threw me forward onto the wet concrete.
My palms smacked the floor. Little stones lodged themselves under my skin. My pencil case and water bottle flew out of my bag into a shallow puddle in front of me. The opening flap of my backpack flipped open and the buckle hit me above my eyebrow.
I stayed on the ground longer than I should have. But the weight of everything I’d done wrong since move-in — reply alls in enormous Listservs, mistakenly thinking I had money in my student account but then being blown away by the bill, grossly underestimating the amount of time it’d take me to do 100 pages of reading — kept me down. I felt unable to bounce back.
A couple of students witnessed my painful fall. They handed me my water bottle and pencil case and made sure nothing else had fallen out of my bag. They asked me if I was okay, if I needed to go to McCosh Health Center. I hastily said no, that I’d go to the bathroom and clean myself up. Anything to have them walk away so that I could collect myself alone.
I walked to the bathroom, still stunned by my fall. I wet paper towels and cleaned the blood and dirt off my knees (not before posting a heroic picture to my Snapchat story, however). As I wiped mud off of my calves, I replayed my fall in my head. My cheeks grew hot and a red flush crept up my neck.
How freshman of me, I thought. Do people even fall after their seventh birthdays? I was humiliated at the prospect of ever seeing the audience of my fall ever again. (As it turns out, two of them were at the meeting I was heading to.)
Later on, my embarrassment bled into surprise at how genuinely concerned the bystanders were. As concerned as I was about looking like a clumsy frosh, that wasn’t in the forefront of anyone’s mind but mine. And anyways, being a freshman is amazing, right? We have late meal and no theses to think about.