Settling back into school after the summer is sometimes unsettling. It could be relearning a specific detached hello to that peripheral acquaintance, reunderstanding — in neutral sunlight — that route from the library once weighted with late-night assignments and February snow or retrieving social postures and modes of thinking almost exclusively inhabited in this patch of the world. Settling back into Watermargin took relearning for me. I start from detached, structural descriptions to friends back home: “It’s a co-op — like a gender-neutral fraternity, but you help with the cooking and cleaning so it’s dirt cheap — themed around social justice.” More privately, I recall that its resonance to me wasn’t through spring formals or the barbeque on Slope Day as penetratingly as it is rushing a final paper and hearing a housemate make his fourth trip bringing down utensils he accumulated over the semester, dumpster diving and the festive sharing of spoils the night of and watching the house fall into disrepair during finals to the extent that my roommate proclaimed, “You know you’re in Watermargin when you feel an ant crawling up your leg.”
I remember, also, my early dissonance with its culture. My alternative description of Watermargin to Christian friends back in Singapore notes how within my first week here, I found a portrait of Jesus with condoms taped to his nipples.