November in Michigan is special; we get a crisp rosy glow in our cheeks and love in our pores. Men get fuzzy and women thicken up. We begin to appreciate a warm change.
Suzie had a high going that inspired pep in her step. A campus bus passed. She saw several classmates, and they saw her. Even with the eye contact, there was no acknowledgment, probably because she deleted most of them from Facebook this summer. She chuckled, put her earbuds in, and kept it moving.
Suzie made her way through Donors’ Court, where giant slabs of marble were carved to depict the white faces that kept the University financially afloat. She hated those cold, pompous eyes that followed her, but she always turned her Naomi Campbell on when she passed so they could watch her work.
Suzie approached the Humanities Building, a looming brick monstrosity. The cooper-turned-green gunk all over the roof reminded her of all the money she wasted trying to pick a path of higher education.
“I don’t belong here, either.”
With an overly dramatic sigh, she made her way to class, on time and early. She sat closest to the window so that when she began to come down, she’d have something pleasant to look at. Her thick afro tucked into a beanie seemed strange against the white lead paint on the walls. Students began to trail in, avoiding sitting near her, as per usual. The only other color in the room was the wooden trim around the dry erase board and windows.
After fifteen minutes, Professor Johnsen finally showed up. He was a bit more exuberant than usual, carrying a box green and orange folders. Suzie always admired Prof. Johnsen; he was passionate about his teachings, making his class easy and interesting. She was on track for a 4.0 this semester with little effort, but gaining tons of knowledge.
“Good afternoon, class. Excuse my tardiness. Because we’re wrapping up soon, I’d like to invite you all to apply for my Western Ireland study abroad program this summer.”
Suzie’s resting bitch face contorted into innocent curiosity; she’d wanted to study in another country for years, because America was just not doing it for her anymore.
“A quick overview: we’ll spend two weeks in Galway at NUI, and four weeks in Dublin at Trinity College. Seven courses will be offered in 3000-level English and Humanities. I have some info for you here in these packets.”
Suzie’s hand shot up, “Yo, would I get an override for these classes since I’m a freshman, again?”
“Of course, Suzie. I have no doubt that you’d be able to keep up” he said with a smile.
The class snickered at her vernacular, probably because they hardly ever heard her speak, and of course, she sounded like the Fresh Prince.
Prof. Johnsen passed out the packets. When he got to Suzie, a Blonde girl stared to see if she’d really take one. When Suzie noticed her, she waved and flipped her imaginary hair. Blondie rolled her eyes, but was sure not to make eye contact with Suzie again.
As the hype of the trip faded, and the lecture started, Suzie fell between daydreams. I’m going to be the only Black girl on this trip. I’ll be the only Black girl in Ireland. But at least it’s not America, and I’m gonna get straight mothafuckin’ As.”