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Scene One: Interaction with Space in Campion

Early mornings in Campion Dining Hall are desolate, the sparsely-inhabited tables and halls giving off an almost frigid air. Currently, it is 8:30 am. Campion at this hour is primarily about utility; whereas the Dining Hall is typically a social space where eating comes second to catching up with friends, in the early hours of the morning it is a place to acquire nourishment and not much else.

Students are huddled in clusters near the ends of the long tables, speaking in hushed tones. Some are eating by themselves, isolated either by circumstance or by choice. A handful of students are walking around the food stations, browsing the options available for breakfast. One common theme, though, is that everyone seems to be miles apart from one another, whether due to their literal distance apart or their figurative distance away from each other whilst focused on their food or their phones.

Some workers — about four of them in total, dressed head-to-toe in black — are bunched toward the front of the room near the entrance doors. They flock around the cash registers or lean on uninhabited tables. One of the workers breaks off from the group and wipes off a table in a mechanical fashion, insinuating that she has done this same act countless times prior.

There is a consistent flow of students in and out of the entranceway; the number of students increases steadily as the morning hours tick onward. These students tend to pass each other without any acknowledgement of each others’ presences, constantly and silently moving.

The workers emphatically and vibrantly greet students who are grabbing breakfast and coffee. They speak and laugh loudly, taking full ownership of the area both with their bodies and with the sound they make. These workers seem to be the only people who are not afraid to make noise in this space.

The dichotomy shifts, however, around 9 am (almost exactly), when students begin entering in noisier groups.


Scene Two: Admore Farmers Market

In one corner of the Admore Farmers Market is a cramped-yet-airy cafeteria area, peppered with cold metal tables that feature a holographic design on their tops. Half of these tables are occupied by people — mostly older people with white or grey hair, intermingling with some young families and couples. At first, there is only one child: a little girl, most likely about five-years-old, with shoulder-length mousey brown hair and a Batman mask around her neck, sitting with two women who look to be around 30. She also dons a pink and purple cape, polka-dot leggings, and checkered slip-on sneakers. A green smoothie sits in front of her on the table, but because she is short her mouth does not quite reach the straw.

A man beyond her with a white beard and close-cropped hair wears a worn leather jacket. He sits with a woman whose back is turned to me; her long salt-and-pepper hair is twisted into a braid that cascades down the back of her chair. They eat Greek food out of two styrofoam containers using plastic cutlery.

Beside me sits a man wearing a baseball cap, blue jeans, and an olive green canvas army jacket. His snowy white 5 o’clock shadow contrasts starkly with his tanned skin under the shadow of his baseball cap. He munches contentedly on a sandwich and potato salad. When I look again, however, he is suddenly gone, leaving the table without as much as a sound.

Minutes later, an ethnically-diverse family enters and sits at the table adjacent to the two 30-something women and the girl in the Batman mask. They arrange their four children around the table: one is still in a stroller; one, a little girl with piercing blue eyes that are highlighted by her blue sweatshirt, is preoccupied with eating a soft pretzel and sits quietly on her chair; the other two, the eldest siblings, sit next to each other and drink lemonade. “Want the pretzel? Want more?” the father says to the daughter in the blue sweatshirt.

The child who is in the stroller is soon picked up by her mother, a tired yet radiant-looking woman; when she is lifted out of the carriage it is easy to see her red curly hair and blue eyes. She is wearing a white sweater and babbles on and on, talking in some language only a mother could understand.

But it really is unclear, though, what anyone in the room is saying; people’s speaking is muffled by the sounds of food being prepared, the buzz of customers conversing, and the rustle of plastic shopping bags. Based solely on body language and facial expressions, however, all of the conversations going on around me seem congenial. Not one person in my immediate vicinity is texting or talking on their phone, and conversation seems to be easily flowing.

The sky outside the windowed walls is dotted with expansive, puffy clouds yet still sunny. Shadows dance over the landscape as the sun occasionally darts behind the clouds. Everyone is still wearing their coats, even people who seem to have been sitting and eating in the area for a great deal of time. The room is chilly, due to the fact that it is glass on three sides. On the fourth side is a Greek food stand, across from a fresh vegetable stand and a flower display.

 

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