I was fifteen minutes into my history midterm when I knew I was done for. Apparently, banking on my knowledge of U.S history categories in Jeopardy was not enough to save me. It was a valiant effort, nonetheless. One by one, my classmates sighed and gave in to defeat, handing in their exams and accepting their fate.
Partially because I knew it was my own fault, I refused to surrender right away.
After fifty more minutes, however, I knew it was time to throw in the towel.
As I headed outside, I made a mental calculation of how much time I would have before the shuttle bus would come. I could definitely run to the cafeteria and treat myself to a pity-iced coffee, but…it was snowing. Not the tiny flurry here and there snow, but the kind that whips around you, piling up fast and heavy, creating snow mounds over every possible structure that could warrant a safe scurry across campus. Nevertheless, I threw on my hood and trudged across the field, joining a band of unfortunate souls waiting for the comfort of the warm bus.
When five, ten, fifteen minutes went by without a car in sight, I started to get this feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach. A couple of us started to make polite small talk as we waited, and finally, I suggested we run to public safety and ask why the bus was running late. A few moments later, the four of us stood dripping inside the public safety office in a subzero state of shock. “Shuttle service has been suspended, you’ll have to stay put,” the officer said. Maybe it was the complete helplessness with our situation or even the start of frostbite, but none of us protested.
There is something remarkable about how sharing improbable circumstances with people can spark immediate friendship.
Together, we formed a shivering, late-night Breakfast Club.
A grad student looking to become an accountant confessed to hating math but loving the idea of having money. Two other girls, both seniors, had plans for law school but in completely opposite fields. Then you had me, a sophomore English major, blissfully distracted from her failed exam due to the night’s events. We talked about everything and nothing, and I remember I never once felt despair or anxiety about being stranded with no clue of when we would be rescued.
Four hours later, the snow had finally relented. The two future lawyers had friends who lived on campus and eventually went their separate ways to the safety of a dorm room. The grad student and I, realizing this was our means for escape, split a seventy-dollar Uber to the train station and traipsed our way through the remnants of the blizzard to our homes.
We bid each other a frosty, relieved goodnight.
As I shook off my sopping clothes and wrapped myself in the warmest blanket I could find, I found myself reflecting on the enormity of the past couple of hours. I spent the day prior in carefree ignorance, unaware that my one studying blunder would plunge me into an entirely new college experience. The weather, of all things, offered me a glimpse of those scenes that you only see in movies: those impracticable, John Green-type narratives that only work in my wildest YA novel dreams. I had spent my first two years of college somewhat keeping to myself, never really straying from the friends I made in class or from clubs. Sure, I may never experience another time where I make friends because of a raging blizzard, but still. I was doing that college thing, the thing where you do what you’ve never done before.
That night, I learned a new history lesson, one that left me less liable to getting a B minus in the end. History doesn’t repeat itself. Moments, like comparing vacation dreams and reflecting on private school horror stories with strangers in a blizzard, happen once in a lifetime; they’re cinematic moments. Yet, that does not mean I won’t have more unexpected incidents or nights that I’ll never forget. College is all about what’s new and what’s different, and I enjoyed having an experience unlike one I had ever had before, snow and all. Making friends in strange (albeit, cold) places, isn’t that what college is all about?