I wish I knew how to quit you, Williamsburg. But — as the rain beats down in an arrhythmic staccato reminiscent of the Friday morning hangover — you complete me. My first few days back in Williamsburg have been characterized by a flurry of activity as the honeymoon period of our summer love affair comes full circle. Reminiscing with old friends, cleaning out storage units and of course buying a cactus; the past few weeks have been a fluster. But now — with the last bag unpacked, the last roach squashed, the last token “I haven’t seen you in a month” cheese shop lunch eaten and my potted friend prepped for a semester of neglect — I am officially settled down, just in time for the humidity.
The tropical Williamsburg weather always reminds me of my first day of freshman move-in and the late August death throes of the summer beast that is tidewater Virginia. A potent cocktail of ungodly heat and humidity, cut with an occasional chaser of torrential downpour, this shooter is not for the faint of heart and drives many students to the safety of the indoors and AC (if they’re lucky enough to have it).
However, this move-in is quite different from the August freshman flood: minivans of virgin dorm gear don’t clog Ukrop Way, the gaggle of gawking parents has vanished and a soft silence has replaced the war cries of tweaking Orientation Aids hopped up on tribe pride and Wawa coffee. Instead, campus is just one tumbleweed shy of abandoned. Lodge One echoes like a mausoleum and the once-social activity of jaunting along the brick byways has become a somber shuffle of awkward smiles at lounging construction workers and facilities staff distorted in a Marlboro haze. Carrion hover above the terrace and it seems more likely to find a marauding herd of tourists grazing the Sunken Garden than any sunbathing sorority girls or Frisbee fanatics. I fear even the squirrels have left.
Nonetheless, that does not mean the campus is desolate, because unlike LeBron in San Antonio, it’ll take a lot more than heat to sideline these summer superstars. There is still life hidden in the dark underbelly of the College of William and Mary, you just have to know where to look.
When the sun goes down the night comes alive in a vibrant casserole of summer vagabonds, their burdens trimmed to a bare minimum of classes or the laughable responsibility of a part-time job. Now “play time” is all the time. However, with numbers cut to a fraction of the usual student body, the old guard social structures fall away like freshman inhibitions. From fresh-forged alumni and grad students hanging on to college life as long as they can to freshman Aid Data interns casting wary glances in fear that the next waiter is going to accost them for an ID — the bars and delis have become an alcohol fueled summer camp of new relationships, with lots of rosy cheeks to go around.
That is all for now my friends, but remember to tune in next week as I don my Hemmingway cap and delve into who and what really make up this rowdy band of summer expatriates.
Editor’s Note: This author makes no apologies for his biased sports plug. Viva Los Spurs!
Jacob, great writing! Very evocative.
Please keep it up and help us all remember…