By Kasey Marshall
Bard of Quintard
Friday. 7:55 a.m. You look up at your alarm clock in terror. Accepting your punishment for hubris, you prepare for your daily Tartarean task. All becomes a blur as you desperately gather necessities, as you will not have the energy to return for the forgotten. If you’re going to be late, you somehow feel obligated to do so fashionably. Your eyeliner must be symmetrical. Your outfit perfectly coordinated and resistant to the treachery of bicycling, lest you fall victim to bike chain snares or the exposure of your “knee socks.” Possibly your ankles. The elevator has no sympathy, so you run down the stairs and brace yourself for the unforgiving cold. Even in the blindingly icy wind, you pedal deftly around ice, potholes, and bad drivers. You envy them. Lost in your bitterness, you fly over the small speed bump next to Elliott. But hark, the bell tolls! It tolls for thee, but only once. It is 8:15. You have failed. Gasping for air and drenched with sweat, you shamefully take your seat at the back of the classroom, praying that your professor will not notice. You have prayed in vain. Her eyes meet yours as she notes your sin with a single flick of her pen. Quintardy© again.
Later in the day, you try to soothe your wounded pride at your usual fraternity. But there you find yourself drowning in a sea of strangers. Even your old friends darkness and Jack Daniels have become foreign to you. The music jars your silence-accustomed ears. But still you dance. Dance. DANCE. Forget the pain. Once you’ve had enough, you begin to stagger home. You attempt to invoke the mythical BACCHUS, but he with his retinue of maenads zooms past you into the night. When will BACCHUS notice you?
You return to your Ithaca without celebration. The fickle elevator finally decides to humor you. Within your vertical chariot, you reach for the buttons over a puddle of what appears to be light beer. It is not light beer. As a last ditch effort at human connection, you go to check Yik Yak. But just as Aeneas reached for the shade of Creusa, so too do you reach for your phone. Falling to your knees, so too do you weep. You abandoned your phone on the counter of a now distant frat bathroom (or fratroom). God knows what fluids it has come in contact with now. Your usual cries of “тоскá*” have been replaced with a single defeated and broken whisper: “Life’s hard in Quintard.”
If you saw yourself in this tragic narrative, you too are likely a Quintardian. But not a Gorgan; your dorm’s notorious godforsakenness hardly merits an article. That aside, it’s odd how we’re held to the same standards as central-campus dwellers. Shouldn’t my survival and eventual presence count for something? Why are my attendance grades so bad? Isn’t Raynaud’s phenomenon a valid excuse for missing class? Is it obvious that I woke up on the floor of Woods 341 this morning?
I’ll admit being prone to theatrics, but I’m not salty in solitude. When asked how much he identified with the phrase “life’s hard in Quintard” on a scale of one to ten, fellow Quintardian Ben Sadler (C’17) gave a rating of “a solid nine point five. When it’s cold? Ten. Maybe eleven.” Such a brief response says it all.
Yet through this exchange, I also discovered that Quintard’s benefits and disadvantages are one and the same. The knowing “me too” in response to “I live in Quintard” initiates a bond stronger than I’ve had with any lover. And in that moment, I feel completely understood, even if that person will always be a stranger to me. Coexisting in silence, an entire building of people shares a profound communal empathy. The unique peace of Quintard can’t be solely attributed to its residents; distance from central campus also means distance from all fraternities. Although it’s hard to appreciate when you’re running late, the walk really is beautiful. Nicer still is hiking to the Cross, where the sunset-watching possibilities are nearly limitless. Even without leaving your room, there’s something to be said about the way the fog rolls in over the rugby field. With all its faults, Quintard has some endearing je ne sais quoi that surpasses all understanding. And at least it’s not Alcatraz.
*a Russian word of untranslatable despair
Photo by Kasey Marshall