The time was 9:45am, and it was the second Monday of class. I came up off of the still-sleeping residential street at a brisk jog, entering into the quad on an angle so that each building was like a base with me positioned as a shortstop. Each one of the buildings was distinctive and crisply colored; all were brownstones and three of them had metal fire escapes (though i think they were mostly decorative). I passed a few small messes of people who were trickling out of classes early or who were just arriving, but i didn’t recognize anyone other than the girl in my other two Monday classes. I flashed her a smile but she didn’t see me.
The main issue at had was that for the entire first week of classes i had totally forgot about my 10am Modern Mythology lecture, so i had to somehow make it there and have my absences written off as a schedule confusion. Modern Mythology was to be found in room 142, but i wasn’t sure of which of the buildings surrounding the quad it was hosted in. The one building closest to me was numbered oddly, so that its 142 would have been on the top floor, and i raced up its grey stairwells only to find that it didn’t have that classroom. For some reason i thought it would be in this building, especially because i had passed so many liberal arts classes on the way up. Coming back down the stairs i was in a hurry, and i would skip the majority of each flight… gain momentum on the top few steps and then place my hand on the railing to aid in a controlled arc over the rest until touching down on the bottom two. That is how i go down academic steps all the time… skipping all of the middle ones or shuffling past them so quickly that my entire motion was just momentum. That was how i walked down stairs at Masterman.
There were three more buildings to scout out in the ten minutes i had before class, and i got up to a jog coming out of the door of the first one. The second building was a much newer structure, and had floor-to-ceiling glass paneling that served as walls to its ground floor classrooms; everyone was taught inside their own fishbowl with their gabbing teacher serving as the little plastic castle. In this building i wasn’t interested in the numbers on the classes; i knew i would recognize the teacher if i saw him through the glass, and that he was always early. All i had to do was stare into each room as i flew past them. The ground floor was enough, so i left after circling it once.
Back in the quad now, i was beginning to get worried about making it to class on time, seeing as i definitely would have to talk to the professor for a moment. The first two buildings i had chosen were opposite each other, and coming out of the plate-glass one the two remaining structures seemed impossibly far away. I started jogging to close the ground between myself and the building to my left. A few firm steps got me up to a sustainable speed, and then i planted my right foot hard into the ground and pushed down. My momentum carried me upward, but this time i didn’t merely come back to rest on my next foot. Slowly i rose, still windmilling my legs, until i was fifteen feet above the ground. I was suspending in the air in the same way a life-jacket leaves you bobbing just above sea level, and it was up to me to maneuver up and down and to gain forward momentum.
I stopped windmilling and scissored my legs twice to gain more altitude. Then i dipped my left shoulder hard into the wind to bank around left toward the next building. Suddenly i found myself slipping ever so slowly higher when i should have only gaining an inch or two, and a worried glance at the ground indicated that i was inexorably moving up and away into the blue sky. I pulled out of my bank, pushed out my chest, and inclined my head downward as if i was diving — still i was pushed upwards at an increasing speed. It was as though i had been caught in a backwards undertow… a vicious updraft that was determined to rake my back against the clouds. Before i could do anything else the quad had become the size of a dining room table, and then a cd case, and then just a postage stamp. I could feel the air getting slightly thinner, and the strange changes in pressure made my eyes flickflick flick inside of my eyelids in a way that distracted me from the ground until, finally, i woke up.