When the Sun Rises Over Peirce Dining Hall
Unless something has gone terribly wrong, you’ll find me in Peirce at the same times every day: 8 a.m., 11 a.m., and 5 p.m. One might say I’m grandmotherly, what with my incredibly scheduled life and early dinners. But, in truth, the timing is partly by design, partly by coincidence. Have you ever been to Peirce during its rush hours? If you can imagine the havoc that would be caused by every animal in a zoo being let loose, you might capture a fraction of what rush hour Peirce is like. So I like to get to Peirce right when it opens, which means getting there very early.
All that being said, the real reason I show up to Peirce at 8 a.m. is because of the sun. Have you ever seen the sun sneakily glide into a room at 8:12 a.m.? Or how the morning mist hasn’t yet lifted from the trees and fields beyond, so the sun’s rays sit patiently behind the fog, waiting to beam down on you? Or when the rays finally do sneak in, how they are deep yellow and inescapable, even settling into the ice chips floating in your cup of orange juice?
Have you ever seen lunchtime Pierce at 11:04 a.m.? The dining room completely empty except for a scattering of sunlit bookbags? Have you seen how the room seems to be something like a graveyard but undeniably writhing with the energy of the students to return? Have you ever weaved your way through the tables because you’ve spotted your friend’s backpack: light purple with a mini stuffed horse hanging off the zipper?
Have you ever looked up during your dinner and realized that everything outside was dark? That the windows were merely black squares and the sun gone to sleep? You knew what was outside because you’d seen the grassy bit of land that roams down to the athletic center a million times, but it was all the life inside that really interested you: the insistent light bulbs shining down on your friend across from you and on acquaintances and strangers across the room. Or perhaps you spot your classmate and can finally ask about the homework.
The reason I show up at the same times every day at Peirce is to watch how the light glints off the blonde wood-topped tables, or maybe to know that I can always see my favorite people. When the sunlight fades, at the end of the day, it will be Peirce that defines Kenyon for me, that ties it all together. It is the place where Kenyon comes together. It is the place where the sun rises, where it sits in the sky gazing over us for a moment, and the place where it falls behind the hills with the sweet promise of returning tomorrow, to spread its warmth for us all, once again.