Thursday, November 3, 2016

Gravel, Chakras and Lying to Art Majors

                With all this talk of red and blue states I am reminded of a time when a lack of information about color saved me death and dismemberment.   

                My first junior year in college, I was a Graphic Design major.  I had two junior years due to my inability to decide on a major after unrelenting math classes forced me from my original intended major, Architecture.    During this same year, I was also pledging a fraternity, which placed me fundamentally at odds with many of my fellow Art Students League members.  Between project deadlines and the stress related to the all-encompassing belief that my fraternity brothers would suddenly realize I was a big gay nerd and vote me out, I didn’t get much sleep. 

                I enjoyed the dichotomy of fraternity and artiness all in one person, but I found there were times when I did not fit in with either.  For the fraternity, it was the drinking, which I have never.  For the Art Students, it was the basics like food, clothing, shelter, music and also drinking.  With them there was a lot of tie-dyed, fibrous clothing (purchased from the local hippie emporium Belladonna), CDs of the sounds of whales mating and random talk about auras and chakras and other things seemingly hippie-adjacent.  There were also a lot of black clothes, which I appreciated for its slimming effect but I wanted to be a little less funereal in my ensembles.  Granted I did wear a burlap hoodie and had a pair of fake Birkenstocks in an attempt to blend, but my body secretly craved brightly colored fake Polo shirts.  Everything I owned was fake as I had no money, people.

                As I am willing to try most anything once, I readily agreed when asked, “Do you want to meditate in the Frazer Dorm parking lot?”  Frazer dorm was the men’s dorm at my predominately female Mississippi University for Women.  It sat at the back of the campus, about 20 feet from an active railroad track where a train came by and honked (do trains honk?) their horn at least every hour. 

 My memories are a bit hazy due to age, not drugs, but I remember sitting on gravel, trying to find my chakra with one eye open scanning for cars.  I wanted to make sure I protected my black-clad friends sitting on the ground in the dark in a location frequented by young people mindlessly driving cars; distracted by the tunes of Jesus Jones and Book of Love since cell phones had not been invented at this particular point in history.  Outside of “are we going to die tonight?”, the most pressing question was, “Are chakras to be found in a parking lot on a Mississippi college campus, about 10 miles from the Alabama state line?”  It was unlikely as one of those searching was continuously struggling with random bits of gravel lodged in random bodily nooks and crannies previously unexplored.

I felt fairly certain I had not found any of the colors of the chakras.  There are at least red and blue, to my memory.   Unsure if I would recognize my chakra were I to stumble upon it, I asked, “What shade of blue is the blue chakra?”  The response was a completely disappointing, “Blue.”  We were art majors and we couldn’t specify the exact shade of blue.  Really?  I pressed on, “I know you said blue, but which shade?  Cerulean?  Lapis?  Turquoise?  Aqua?  Tiffany?  Robin’s Egg?  Cornflower?” 

They didn’t snort with derision, but there was a collective sigh as if I had just knocked them up or down a level.  I’m still not sure how this works.  Is it like a video game?  One of the less annoyed ones answered, “It’s just blue.  You’ll know when you’ve found it.”

Tired of sitting in gravel in the dark and starting to get hungry, I lied and said, “Oh.  There it is.  I found it.  What a nice shade of blue.”  You can think all art majors are laid-back, but the looks I received were among the looks you would get if you got caught using Miracle Whip in your chicken salad at a Baptist Women’s luncheon.

With the chakra search abandoned, I suggested a trip to Delchamp’s, the 24-hour grocery store where our intrinsic differences were never more evident than in our snack choices.  They all chose fruit, yogurt or nuts.  I chose chicken salad and used BBQ Crunch Tators (remember those?) as a spoon. 

What can I say, y’all, I am a complex creature.

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