As I write this, it as of yet remains unclear whether or not the College of William and Mary will have class tomorrow, Thursday September 30th. If it was cancelled, then congratulations, I’m sure the day drinking was great. If classes were held, then I offer my condolences, and I hope your exams went well. Tonight, I saw the dark, primal underbelly of our beloved campus. As the torrential rains fell and the campus reverted to its primordial swamp form, and after my fraternity brothers and I frantically pushed all of our basement couches away from the incoming flood waters at the unit. Six friends and I donned swimsuits, ditched our shirts, and ventured out into the night.
As our hooting and hollering reverberated off the tree trunks lining the paths, our motley crew encountered our first civilian of the night. He was a refugee of the great 2 a.m. Earl Gregg Swem Library diaspora, and he looked miserable. He backpack bulged with midterm materials, and his hopeful little raincoat looked more like a soggy tissue. As my group of grass-stained, shirtless friends passed by him, our eyes locked for a second, and I felt his pain. And I saw in his eyes a look that said, “Damn, that looks like fun.”
We eventually made it all the way to the Sunken Garden, which resembled more of a marsh than a field. We shook off our flip-flops and dove at full speed onto our stomachs, sliding across the grass like penguins. Did we look ridiculous? Of course, but that was kind of the point. The only people who would judge us were probably asleep in their dorms. After about 20 minutes of this, we heard hoots and hollers coming from the other end of the Sunken Garden. The next thing we knew, a group of five guys and girls, all in their skivvies, came running across the marsh towards us, clearly doing the exact same thing we were. We spotted each other and both groups let out a volley of shouts, rejecting society and sense, and instead simply celebrating the visceral joy of splashing through a puddle. The other group eventually moved on to check out the Crim Dell, but we could hear them laughing for a solid 10 minutes afterwards.
As we walked back to our building, other students were embracing the strange mood of the campus. Some couples sat on the ancient brick steps of the College and kissed in the pouring rain. Others stood alone by the edge of the Crim Dell and contemplated the ripples of water left by the raindrops. Still others apparently suffered existential crises and sat brooding by themselves, rain dripping off their jaws like awful boy band album covers.
When I got home, it occurred to me why this night was so much fun. The only souls crazy enough to be out running around in the pouring rain were the only ones who would have enjoyed it, anyway. It was the people who had some serious thinking to do. It was the people who were so absurdly in love that a torrential downpour felt like a gentle breeze. It was the people who could only study for so long before they needed to scream and run around like animals. My friend with me said it best. As we were walking out of the building heading towards Old Campus, he said, “These are the nights that I’m going to look back on senior year and remind me why I loved this place.”
__Jason Rodgers is a Flat Hat Confusion Corner columnist. He enjoys piña coladas and getting caught in the rain.__