Monday, August 22, 2005

Trying to find Ms. Pac-Man

I’ve been trying to imagine Jacob in Wheaton for the last few days. He and I have talked several times—well, communicated several times via email, blog, and phone—and that’s given me the chance to picture him in specific Wheaton situations. I can visualize the awkward freshman mingling that happens. Guys prancing over to the Ladies’ floors, these same females cavorting on the east side with the guys. I can even conjure up the exact way these opposing forces view each other, with the gotta-find-a-mate-cyborg character Jacob described in his blog. I can hear the orientation committee members utilizing spiritual sounding words so as to impress the newbies with Wheaton’s uber-awareness of the other realm. The intonation as they talk about “the LORD” and how they decided to do something because “the spirit LED me there” echos through my mind. This is the same stuff my friend Shane wrote about in The Record last year, and subsequently posted on his blog. My mind has no trouble envisioning people walking around asking the big three: What’s your name? What’s your major? Where are you from? (Of course the fourth question is Will you marry me? Haha. (No, seriously, will you marry me? You’re perfect for me; you just don’t know it yet. Let’s at least agree to start courting. No? I have to talk to your dad first? I can do that. What? You were kidding. Haha, me too. Heh, hehe, we sure are funny. This isn’t uncomfortable at all.)) And the whole time they’re doing this they look like pac-men. Most Wheaton students smile so terribly hard during the first week that they have to tip their heads back to speak. It’s as if the lower half of their faces are paralyzed in this grin that spends all day trying to convince anyone who will see it that it’s owner is the nicest, most sincere, most Christ-like, happiest, most perfect possible spouse, in the whole world. Hence the pac-man-talk. Instead of mouths opening like normal humans, the top of the head tilts back as if to gobble up white dots and flashing fruit. I can picture the new Todd M. Beamer center, with it’s gaudy wall sculpture of its namesake walking with his family on a beach, shamelessly reveling in the terrorism-inspired culture of fear. (Yeah, that was way over the top. But every once in a while I have to say something really ridiculous. Maybe my problem is more with the idea that most Wheaton buildings are usually named after people who have done amazing things for the Kingdom of God—however that can be decided—and Beamer did something that united the kingdom of Bush.) My flip-flops can feel the pedway underfoot as I imagine Jacob walking down to the BGC and then along College Ave. towards downtown Wheaton. Even my emotions well up in me as the sentimentality of Jacob meeting cool Wheaton students for the first time hits.

The problem with all of this is that it isn’t quite true. I can’t picture Jacob doing any of this. At every point I see myself instead of him. I can’t quite put my envy into words, this is the best I can do: any time I try to picture him in one of these situations, my mind replaces him with me. I’m not trying to do it. I wish I could stop. Life is no easier, post-college no simpler, near-graduate study no more imminent, by reliving Wheaton at every turn. Especially since I can’t really do it. There is to be no reliving of Wheaton. It’s quite done. Very finished. Absolutely over. Last year gave me false hope, having three classmates in such close proximity. This year will give me the real thing. Unless the Exley brothers make it out sooner than expected. No. No false hope. This is absurd how this sentimentality is making me write all of these fragments. My skills of communicating in our wonderful language are being corrupted by my own state as an emotional wreck. I suppose that Ben Folds isn’t helping write now, as the song Time pulses through my headphones.

Upon re-reading this before posting I see very well how unedited and bad the writing is. And yet I'm so happy to be posting that I can't let the general crappiness keep me from sending this into the cyber-universe.


Jacob said...

Time takes time, you know.

I'm discovering that as the false-fest continues. The Pac-Man comparison is a good one: I've stopped pretending to be amused by the stupid things people do, so naturally I've stopped smiling a lot of the time. When we were in downtown Chicago tonight this girl asked me what she would have to do to make me smile, and I looked at her and imagined her going about her sophomore year with a husband and infant child, and I smiled really big. She was satisfied, at least.

Anyway, I sort of know how you feel: I keep trying to imagine people back in Roseburg but I always insert myself into the picture. Strange, a little depressing, and yes, I'm listening to Elliott Smith.

josh said...

so, this is how off i am. "I suppose that Ben Folds isn’t helping write now," i said, "as the song Time pulses through my headphones."

i meant right now, except he wasn't really helping my writing at that point either, so i suppose it worked. wow i'm a moron sometimes.

Krispin Mayfield said...

I want more Cornelius!