Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

The Haunted Mirror of McBride

Oliver Pearson
October 31, 2018

“Whoever is going door to door trying to give away their ‘haunted mirror’ should really go to bed,” read the McBride Residence Hall group chat near midnight last Wednesday. I’d been on my way back to my room after a long evening of studying in the basement of Gund Commons when I read this message, sheltered in between buildings as the breeze began to creep under my sweater. An October chill descended from tree branches, riding down on the thick orange leaves that define Kenyon in the fall.

The person who sent the message was on the first floor, so it came as a surprise that this mysterious vendor had made it all the way up to my room on the third floor, receiving no’s from the entirety of floors one and two, but successfully gifting it to my dear roommate Curtis Goldbaum. Apparently, Curtis had gladly accepted the mirror purely on the basis that it was “cursed.” Not only had he welcomed this bedeviled glass into our room, he scared me by hiding it under my covers that night when I finally got back. This lead to a few days of war games between dorm rooms, creatively placing the mirror in each other’s beds and closets to scare one another, like a game of tag.

But the Haunted Mirror of McBride really was haunted. Particularly in terms of haunting first-year students on a far more profound level than that of unexpectedly seeing yourself in whatever place the mirror had been hidden. It’s because we are all so caught up in the highs and lows of freshman year that we don’t have the time to stare at ourselves in the mirror and define ourselves with our own eyes. We forget who we are and what we are presenting to others in this new environment.

I admittedly used to spend much more time in front of the mirror at home, but not due to some extreme vanity or need to do my hair in the morning before school. It was more an indication of living in Los Angeles, an extremely hyper-aware and urban environment where image mattered. But being at Kenyon, waking up minutes before class and not going back to the dorm for hours at a time, or merely spending a few minutes in my room before rushing back to my day out in the open, has distanced me from this.

So I deduced this change to be representative of a larger theme: that for the first time since my young childhood, I was beginning to see myself no longer in the Los Angeles mirror sense, but through my connections to all the people I’d met here around campus. This is a much more beautiful way to define yourself: by seeing how you spend your own time without any obligations between classes, which group of people you gravitate to, or what independent projects you engage in. This is all made possible through these new freedoms to become.

So, running on a losing streak in the mirror game and ruminating on all these insights, I took the mirror from my room last week and hid it somewhere in McBride. If anyone finds it, they should stop, take one long look at themselves, ask them why they’re there in the first place, and leave the mirror exactly where they found it. Or do anything they want with it, except put it back in my room.