The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Crossing the Rio Snelling


First I should set the scene: on Tuesdays and Thursdays I watch the yellow and black ACTC bus steam down a black avenue like a riverboat, and half the time I expect Mark Twain to lean out the window and wave his cap and yell out “all ashore that’s going ashore.” What I mean to say is this: I’m not one of you. I go to another school (a school named after a religious figure, a school gilded in post-industrial concrete and shades of pink, which brings to mind words like “East Germany” and “trashy”–enough said). I come to your school on Tuesdays and Thursdays to watch the ultimate games and the steady whirl of the windmill, and bask in the refracted glow of blue-jeans that are cut just right, and beautiful, long-legged boys and girls just moving, moving, moving. I hear the steady beat of your windmill in the St. Paul sky, like the beat of a tell-tale heart.

(Author’s note-Christ, what a shitty metaphor. Perhaps this kind of behavior is the real reason for my rejection from Macalester College. There. I said it. I was rejected, friends.

I remember the day well: it was Spring and either Marquette or Loyola or Macalaster or perhaps a school I had never heard of that flattered me with promises of an “American Scholarship” for a true American scholar. It was a peat-smoke day in April when the letter came in the mail: You have been rejected from Macalester College. Condolences. Silence.)

Three years later I’m waiting in the polished alleys of the treatise section of the DeWitt Wallace library; I ooze around the goddamn place and check my goddamn e-mail about 30 times a day. I think about the time I kissed Amy on the mole on her chin and remember the light through the beat-up shade, feeling philosophical. I think about sex, mostly, and sometimes my mind wandering beyond the deep monsterbrick walls of the DeWitt library, making small lists in my head: buy cigarettes and a bell-pepper, get over Amy, buy a bell-pepper, honor thy father, deposit your paycheck, quit drinking and buy more bell-peppers. This damn condition of mine is horrible, and perhaps the true reason for my rejection from Macalester College on that peat-smoke day in April.

Around me the great minds of my generation in jeans torn justright, beautiful boys from all over the world, and a couple of pouting-lipped real lookers from South St. Paul. There are no smoking hookers starving, hysterical, naked here. Only Love and solar energy.

So you can imagine my surprise when I saw a ghost in your school.

I was wandering in quiet hysteria, when I spotted him in the swinging glass doors of the humanities building.

I recognized him from the cut of his jaw: two lines cracked with time and cigarettes, running from the corners of his mouth to a narrow chin, then came the broad, red nose and the stubble streaked across the jowls like God was impatient, then the clear blue eyes with the bloodshot. My father.

I saw my old man’s face in those swinging glass doors, then the arms knotted from the years laying brick, the chest rising and falling under the plaid shirt, and the concrete and the plaster hardened around the hands, choking–the way they hung that peat-smoke day in October, when they told him his back was no good and they’d had enough of him, don’t come to work tomorrow. Then the hands swinging, the old man pissed drunk at 5 p.m. and the rocking chair splintering.

It started raining and the water ran in two thick lines down my brow, and into my eyes and I felt the soot and the weight of a thousand things, and the sky in St. Paul. The doors swung to again and everything came into focus, and I found I was staring at myself in those glass doors at Macalester college. A ghost.

That day I rode my bike down Marshall, got drunk. In the bowels of the earth the old man stirred with memory, was still.

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    Sam WallaceSep 6, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    excellent submit, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector do not understand this. You should continue your writing. I’m sure, you have a great readers’ base already!