I’m Only Here for the Old Brick Buildings


About the author: Ashley is in the midst of her first year at Oregon State University, just finishing her second quarter to be exact.

It is week nine and I’m tired as a brick.

I say brick because I’m surrounded by these beautiful brick buildings that are mostly what get me to class on gray-sky mornings. And because I am surrounded by a sort of copper-maroon and Mom always told me red was my color. I say brick because they are the heaviest things and the tallest things I see every day and somehow I still lose track of them, sometimes. They are tipping towards the sky, buried in the buildings, stretching higher and being pushed lower with every sunrise.

And I say brick because sometimes their purpose is just to be part of a building you know, to be buried under well-meaning windows and pillars, to be copper-maroon and heavy and tall at once.

And I am tired. So tired. I just got off a four-hour evening shift at the library (it’s 10:37 right now, as I write this sentence), and before that it was a group debate meeting, and before that more work at the library, and before that morning classes. I just walked back to my dorm and my legs felt every jolt of the sidewalk, and my ribs were sky-cold.

But look. I’m tired as a brick, but it’s a wonderful sort of place to be. I’ve done everything I thought I wanted to do when I first arrived at college. If college could be simplified down to a checklist, I’ve checked almost all the boxes. I joined a research team, a club, and a cultural program… got a job, went to parties, found a boy, got dumped. (I suppose I didn’t really want that last checked box… but I did want the experience, I think, even if I would’ve picked differently when and how I got it.) And most recently, dragged myself to the gym— which was the most difficult thing I’ve done, partly, I think, because it’s cold concrete and not a beautiful brick building like the rest. But I did it, my last checked item, just a couple weeks ago, actually.

And I never really meant to check all the boxes. Well, I sort of did: I knew I wanted a boy, and I knew I wanted (needed) to get to the gym, and I knew I wanted to be involved on campus. But things, well, they fell into place, sort of, and although there are still pieces I am missing, still shaping and searching for, I am tired but happy-tired, even though it’s now 10:52 and I need to be up early tomorrow morning.

And I’m tired as a brick. But it’s a good kind of tired, an inspired kind of tired, the kind you get when you’re buried under well-meaning pillars and windows but they’re something, right, and you’re just a brick, but you’re part of something. That kind of tired.