We were on a bus, sated with fast food and images of Harry Styles, after seeing This Is Us at the mall earlier in the afternoon. The fast food made me feel nauseous, and the movie was a little bit disappointing—not enough raw footage, too much 1D source-story rehashing, and excessive fan thanking. You can thank us with backstage footage, FARTHEADS.

It’s dreamy here, and not just because I’m not in Nashville and not at my old college. It feels amazing to wake up in this place, even though there are always kids playing field sports early in the morning and yelling outside my window, or construction workers calling to each other. Waking up to their voices reminds me that I am no longer dormant, and what would usually be annoying feels like little kisses all over my eardrums.

The bus was taking us to a neighboring coed college for a party an upperclassman halfheartedly told us would be fun; a freshman and I decided to tag along with a group of students from our house. As the bus became more and more crowded and noisy, my friend said, “Oh my god—straight girls.” Their energy was aggressively hetero, and would only become more aggressive when we arrived at the other school’s campus and they immediately started flirting with boys. It made me the most uncomfortable person ever, even though I am admittedly a very boy-crazy person who had been giggling about Harry Styles all day. I had assumed that flirting would happen as a by-product of going to a party, but it seemed to be the goal for so many people, a goal people fought toward all night.

We arrived at the campus and followed a large group that disembarked from the bus with purpose, seeming to know where they were going.

My friend and I approached a dorm. Two bros walked out and one of them immediately asked a freshman, “Do you work at Footlocker? Because you look like you do.” We walked past nearly empty cups of alcohol and a cloud of weed smoke, and headed for the door, where bored security guards would halfheartedly check our purses and yawningly point down a stairwell from which bad house music and heat was rising. It was the breath of hell—well, a mild hell, where tons of students stand in a small room and look at one another without dancing or moving much, with the exception of the three or four couples grinding.

We left the basement and wandered around campus for a while, passing two more parties filled with bored kids. People didn’t even look like they were at parties—they looked like extras in a party scene from a movie. Everyone was displaying respect for the tradition of Saturday night on a college campus, but no one looked like they were enjoying themselves. The police raided the second dorm we went to and made students leave. They looked bored too, like they were just going through the required motions.

My first instinct is to call the whole evening a nightmare, but it wasn’t that dramatic—more like a bad dream. And just like in a dream, there were no stakes—my friend and I wanted to go to a different campus with some other first-years, and we accomplished that. No one really cared that this night was below average because it didn’t truly matter; the dream vanished as soon as we fell asleep in our own beds. ♦