I was sure the weatherman was mistaken for predicting sunshine by noon. The rain pelted me from every side and I huddled under my umbrella, sloshing through puddles and spitting windblown hair out of my mouth. Around me, campus bloomed with colorful mushrooms, milling toward classrooms and dormrooms, sporting neon rainboots or soggy tennis shoes. At the library entrance, the mushrooms were suddenly transformed into students, collapsing umbrellas and shaking off boots before entering.
Tip for the day: a smile can buy you almost any assistance. Perhaps it helps a bit to be a girl. In the past I’ve tested out the possibilities on a whole host of personalities—smile, innocent eyes, ask dumb questions with an apologetic laugh. Whether out of pity, kindness or simple inability to be cruel to a smiling face, folks will almost always cheerfully answer every stupid question. Alternately, you can pretend you know what you’re doing and ask intelligent questions—only if you run into a snag—always with a smile. I settled on the second tactic for the library. My task: check out a DVD Papa’s been wanting for months. Step one: renew my library card. After an excruciating few minutes digging up the information needed for an application, I was handed back my library card and stated my business. “The Internet said pick it up in the music lab?” I questioned. The dear librarian nodded. “You’ll only be able to check it out for four hours though, so you’ll probably just want to watch it in one of the rooms upstairs.” My satisfaction melted into discouragement and puddled up around my toes. Time for an intelligent question. “Can I get a Tech friend to check it out for me?” Affirmative. Behold my reasons for calling Nick and begging to borrow both his person and his ID. Then I dashed up the stairs to the music lab, stated my business and was received with a host of questions. “Is it for a class?” Smile. “No sir.” “I need your ID.” Oh! We check it out here, do we? Smile. “Um…actually, a friend is checking it out for me.” Interject another intelligent question. “Can you hold it for me until he gets here?” Soon Nick arrived, hunkering under his parka like a soggy leprechaun, and I presented both his person and his ID and received a green slip, a white slip and a DVD in return. “Thank you,” with another smile before we made our way downstairs and out the door. That’s when the alarm went off. Somewhere I forgot to ask the intelligent question, “Is that all we have to do?” The answer would have been negative. The green slip was meant for the folks at the front desk. Somehow I muddled my way through the intricate system of checking out a DVD at the college library and survived with movie in tow. I should feel accomplished. At least I smiled.
My parking escapade proved better results. Walk into the campus police office. Smile. Pretend I know what I’m talking about. “Can I get a temporary parking permit?” The officer and the lady at the desk exchanged glances. “Honey,” said the robust lady, “It’s raining today. I can’t give you a permit. Don’t tell anyone, but the computers don’t work when it rains.” My eyebrows conferred together in confusion. “So…um?” We won’t try to pass that off as an intelligent question. The officer chimed in. “Just park wherever you want, darlin’. Ain’t nobody gonna do anything about it today.” That’s a statement even I could understand and I left the office grinning from ear to ear and found a spot by the cafeteria, in the center of campus. Perhaps it will rain more often.
I’ve nearly decided to petition the BCM to install gender signs on the bathroom doors. Emily’s directions of “all the way back to the left” sent me walking into the men’s bathroom. And back out with as much speed as I could muster. By the time I dropped Zach and Emily back off at campus after lunch at the BCM, the weatherman had convinced the sun to peek out from behind his hidey-hole of clouds.
Amber and I tripped out of the apartment for a walk in the warming sunshine and snagged flowers off of a budding tree as we passed, recalling the days of “He loves me, he loves me not.” It’s nice to be reminded that I’ve grown-up at least a little. All afternoon my strength ebbed like the tide. “I’d better go,” I said, an hour earlier than usual, “I’ve got some things to do yet.” “Things” meant a bench at the head of Bona Dea, reading the Psalms for the day. How perfect they were! In spite of laughter, of fun, of joy, I’d been lost in a cloud of confusion, unable to be alone and sort out my thoughts. “Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me, Thou dost understand my thoughts from afar. Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the everlasting way.” Quiet. At last. Knowing that God understands what even I can’t fathom. Unafraid of His gentle searching, His loving scrutiny, I poured out my heart to Him and then left the empty shell in His hands, to be refilled.
Lord, Thou art my very essence--
To live is to be in Thy presence.
I lay aside all that’s confused
And sit down at Thy feet to muse.
The Lover that I seek is Thee,
Because Thou sought and first loved me.
The only truth that I possess
Is Thou, my King of Righteousness.