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January 19, 2014

On Being Part of the Club

I’m writing this in the library.

Usually, at Clark, my procedure for coming to the library goes like this: walk inside, check out which sandwiches are available at Jazzman’s, do a quick lap around the first floor, talk to people I see on said circumambulation, and sit down with the people I like the most/plan on being there the longest. I’m pretty much never alone in the library.

I’m writing this alone in the library.

The thing about Clark is that it’s small and there are a zillion groups to be part of (approximate figure), and so everybody knows a lot of people. Like a very large chunk of the student body is recognizable to me. That isn’t so much the case here at UEA because A) I’m new and B) the school is –get this– nearly six times the size of Clark. So statistically speaking, it isn’t that weird that I’m alone in the library. It still feels a teensy bit lousy.

But I’m getting somewhere. Friday night was Club Retro at LCR (an on-campus club).

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I don’t really like clubs; they’re usually crowded with sweaty people I don’t know, the lighting is terrible (see photo) and I usually don’t even like the music (which is usually way too loud) at all. But Club Retro was fun because they played music from the 50s through the 80s and I knew pretty much all the words. It felt good to listen to music I know; it made me less uncomfortable in the Poorly Lit Jungle of Dancing.

The other thing that made it less uncomfortable was running into people. It was really cool to have gone to the LCR with one group of people and run into another group of people. That’s the kind of thing that would happen to me at Clark. It’s exciting.

In high school, I was part of this youth organization called NFTY. NFTY is a North American Jewish youth organization, and at each event we had these song sessions in which people would do a lot of jumping and dancing and singing, and it was super fun. All of the aforementioned jumping and dancing happened in circles, and when you’re new to NFTY, you’re always a little worried about being let into the circle. The most important thing you can do as someone in the circle is to make sure that there’s space for people trying to get into the circle.

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Example of one such circle, from my junior year of high school. I apologize to my friend Eric (far left) for reintroducing this terrible haircut to the world. Also apologies to Dan (top) who was not being let into the circle (probably didn’t know he was there (SORRY DAN!)) This photo belongs to Ethan Heft(that’s guy wearing who’s wearing a nametag that says “Ethan Heft.”)

I wore a NFTY sweatshirt to the LCR (over a tie-die that I made myself!). I wore it because I was cold, but I’m sure that there was some sort of subconscious nostalgic retro thing going on, wearing this sweatshirt that’s basically an antique… I got it three years ago.

And but so while we were dancing in the LCR I was in this circle and it was really fun singing along to “Twist and Shout” or whatever and there was this guy there who was clearly trying to get into the circle. My NFTY-trained instincts kicked in and I opened up the space to make sure that he would be able to dance with us. And he seemed grateful for it.

Long story short, it feels good to belong. Running into someone in a club or getting let into the circle or having people to sit with feels good. Rian said in his last post that he’s going to miss Clark as “a place where every walk across campus is a walk amongst friends.”

That’s how I feel at Clark, too. But even though I’m alone in the library right now, it feels like UEA is letting me into the circle a little bit. And it’s nice.

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