Old Business and New

Saturday night, I forgot to tell you, I accepted a miniature cupcake from a tray thrust at me by strangers wearing red white and blue and dangling a large American flag out of the window of their minivan.  They had apparently been circling campus for the past hour and a half, because, although we denied them the first time they slid open the door and shouted at us to take a cupcake, the next time they stopped us (we were walking in the opposite direction; Play in a Day was over) we shrugged and chose vanilla cupcakes with globs of orange (or was it red?) icing.

“Are you college students?” I asked them.

“Some of us are,” the boy in the middle seat began, grinning at me from under his spangled hat.  But he was interrupted when another party of walkers was spotted: “Forward!” the driver bellowed, and so forward they went, cheering and letting the flag whip parallel to the speeding van.

The cupcakes, although cold, we delicious, and I think I can safely say that they weren’t poisoned, as I am able to type this post with minimal numbness.

To counteract that potentially poor decision, this morning I woke up at 4:45, struggled into yesterday’s jeans, sweater, coat, mittens, hat, and the longest scarf I could find (for optimum neck wrapping), scooped up backpack and gym bag, and caught a ride to campus.

This week is the first inaugural Mental Health Awareness Week at UMM, and as MCSA is the main planning squad, MCSA (or fifteen of us, at least) met on the Mall at 5:30 to put out the shoes.

It was early, and it was cold, and the sprinklers came on in the middle of the operation.  At one point, Annie held up a pair of women’s shoes: “Look at how huge these are!  Who has feet this big?”

I walked over on my size 10.5 (11 on a poor day) feet.  The shoes were too small for me.

Yep.

Anyway, each pair of shoes we arranged on the Mall (there were 1,100 pairs) represented a college student who committed suicide last year in the United States.

It ended up being a powerful display; the shoes scattered around reminded me of gravestones.  Eerie.  It was fun, however, to watch the sun rise and the students trudge to class and do double takes as they walked past the Mall.  Some decided to cut across as usual, picking their way carefully.  Most chose to circumvent the memorial, instead craning their necks to read the signs we had posted.

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