Simi Olurin ’19

“It’s so easy to fall out of love with something that used to consume every fiber of your mortal being. To think, that at one time in your life you couldn’t conceive the possibility that at a certain point in your life,” Sasha paused to wipe a tear, “it would no longer be your life.”

        Audible sadness paralyzed the auditorium. The visual of a broken genius striking them in the deepest corners of their own, shelled grief.

        Sasha cleared her throat and scratched the back of her head for what seemed like an eternity before uttering, “I wish I was stronger. I wish I could have been stronger not only for all of you, but for the characters that meant so much to all of us. So many symbols of our time, our struggles, and… and our weaknesses.”

        Just as she began to reach for, what I assume was her microphone, I dropped my pencil on the floor and, as if to make sure that I made a fool of myself, it rolled completely under the chair in front of me. Heaving a heavy sigh, I began to slink down in my seat in an attempt to retrieve the pencil with my foot. I kept reaching, stretching, changing my position, then all of a sudden, my leg tensed up and a cramp slowly crawled up my left side and commandeered the limb.

        “Oh God. Oh Lord, please no,” I whisper screamed. The long-haired hipster next to me gave me an uninhibited look of disgust. As if my incredible pain was in some way disturbing his seminar experience.

        “Wow. Do you have any respect?” he spat.

        “Do you have any prescription?” I respond, “There’s no glass in your glasses friend, I noticed that twenty minutes ago.”

        “Not that it’s any of your business, but certain style trends are necessary to pull an outfit together,” he said matter- of- factly. He looked me up and down, peering at the yellow slipper at the end of my throbbing leg, “something I’m sure you don’t concern yourself with.”

        “Excuse me. I left my Prada-pacemaker back in my dorm. I’m sure it would have really tied my look together in a way that Sasha Linderman would have appreciated from seventeen rows below,” I spat. I began to chuckle because I was rather pleased with my retort. I had noticed, as of late, that my comebacks directed at annoying strangers had recently had an uptake in the caliber of sheer sassiness.

        I suddenly noticed that several individuals had turned to look at me, most likely because the crazy redhead laughing to herself in the middle of a Pulitzer winner’s seminar wasn’t necessarily what they had waited in line for 3 hours to witness. Although I’m clearly in the wrong for creating the disturbance, I can’t help but be irritated by those around me: everyone had come with a laptop, or a notepad, or a tape recorder (despite the being able to simply record in on their phones). They all felt an all-encompassing need to capture every last audible breath of a “bonafide genius” as my roommate had said. I had rolled my eyes when she said that because, sure, she’s a good writer, and she was able to make people feel things through her work, but the word genius was thrown around more often than it should have been around here.

        We, the students of Millford Hill University, were nowhere near the upper echelon of those deemed “the future leaders of America.” The brutal truth was this: we had all slacked off in high school in some way or another, whether it was not knowing that your grades mattered the first three years, or you thought your parents would be able to buy your way into a slightly more respectable school before the housing bubble burst (yours truly). We don’t attend the worst school in America, but it’s certainly not a good enough school for the people here to be walking around as if they had just invented the concept of air. I’m constantly depressed by what some would call their ambition and drive, because to me, it just seems like pure delusion. So when I heard that Linderman was coming to our school, I was infuriated.

        This woman just single handedly reinforced the idea that these people are in the belly of an intellectually stimulating beast. She’s on what she has deemed a “good-bye” tour, but I don’t believe that for a second because I simply don’t trust anything that she says. Sasha strikes me as one of those people who works her entire life to grab the brass ring, and when she finally has it, she forgets all of the hard work that got her there. The second she won her Pulitzer, it was obvious that she was coasting, that she simply expected people to think that she was going to be incredible forever just because she was incredible once in her life. Hell, if that’s how that worked, then I’m sure no one would be sitting in the auditorium at this moment. Someone who’s incredible doesn’t find himself or herself at Millford, in any shape or form. And there’s just no way that our school would be able to afford someone who was still incredible to speak to us for what seemed like 6 hours.

        Sasha is just like everyone in the audience: a blinded fraud.

        I sucked up the ridiculous pain in my leg and retrieved the pencil by slowly rolling it back into a reasonable range underneath my foot. I manage to pick it up in what I imagine was the least graceful action ever maneuvered by someone my age. Holding the pencil up to the light, I sigh, hair and crumbs line the yellow, brown surface and I know immediately that it could no longer be used for its intended purpose. No computer. No tape recorder. Not even a notepad. I had only brought the pencil to chew on, and I was proud of myself for my due-diligence. If you chew, you can’t scream. If you chew, you can’t stand up and pose a question. If you chew, you can’t publicly berate a Pulitzer Prize winning author in front of a crowd of people who live and die by her simply being in their presence. Chewing was keeping me from destroying the spirits of the strangers in the auditorium who may have needed someone who had once been incredible.

        But I dropped the pencil, and no longer had an excuse.

        So I stood.