This is part four of our series called “Campus Tales.” Everyone has a story, and so does every building on this campus. Read stories about NU’s campus buildings, in all kinds of shapes and forms – available in different genres for different locations.
Dear Northwestern Students,
If you’re anything like me, I know you are irrevocably and resolutely heartbroken that the glorified concrete watering hole that is the Norris University Center is going to be relocated. Maybe it doesn’t fit the glass-windowed perfectionist aesthetic that the landscapers envision for campus, but for students North and South, it’s home.
If, for some unknown reason, you were to grab any random kid and ask what it is they’re going to miss most, I predict the answers will be fairly simple: the booths in the back that closed you away from the outside world, the nondescript setting for the world’s most overwhelming activity fair, that one really cool egg chair. But my experience is different.
I remember the day I first learned that we’d soon be apart. I shall recount the tale...
It was a day like any other. I had just finished class in the library and was in the mood to run through another equivalency meal, and so I found myself hiking up the understated mountainous ramp of Norris, calves burning from the slope. I swung through the revolving door into the lobby, accustomed to campus enough to know to keep my eyes averted lest I be accosted by some social group I didn’t want to be a part of. I walked at an unnecessary clip past the table.
“Hi, can you sign…”
“Hey, would you be interested...”
Then I trudged down the stairs, taking in the smell of the lower level: a mingling of sweet cinnamon Dunkin Donuts and zesty Frontera cilantro that they truly should bottle up and sell as cologne in the bookstore next to the NU-brand oven mitts. It’s a busy place frequented by students of all ages, which is funny given that everything is overpriced and Frontera is literally open for two hours every day as long as that day is Monday or Wednesday.
I had to dodge the flight of a few stray ping pong balls and scamper around an eager prospie tour group before making my way to the jungle of tables. There was a brief period of searching the scene, lasting longer than I’d like to admit, during which I called upon my childhood finesse with Look and Find books to nab a free little white table. I thought I spotted unclaimed territory in the back by the windows. Keeping my eye trained on my target, I picked my way over fallen backpacks and weaved between chairs pushed too far back. That was when I saw a water bottle slide onto the surface and a bag drop into the chair and realized with a pang of desperation that my quest was fruitless. Luckily, there was another free table right next to it.
I pulled out my laptop, prepared to work through twenty minutes worth of French in a sixty minute period with the help of a Norbucks latte, yet I couldn’t help but feel distracted. Maybe it was the frequent breaks to check the likes on my latest tweet. Maybe it was the fact that every 5 minutes, I stopped working to talk to someone I knew who stopped by. But maybe it was because I knew it was one of my last times pretending to study there. Someday, in the near future, Norris as we knew it would be gone. My eyes began to sting; a single tear rolled down my cheek. The smell of cilantro was burning my contact lenses.
Particularly sentimental, I picked up my bags and relocated to the upstairs portion of the building, swerving around whoever was spinning rapidly in that one cool chair. I looked wistfully outside at the Norbucks courtyard, placed lovingly in the sun as if it wasn’t absolutely freezing for six months out of the year. I glanced at the array of students gathered before the television watching a sports game on low volume, wiped the last remaining tear from my eye and took a deep breath to prepare to plunge through the revolving door one last time.
I would miss that building, and on that day, I knew it would never be the same when someone looked me in the eye and said, “Meet me at Norris.”