The Red Zone: Self-Care Story Series Part Four

Series by Student Ambassador Kate Brock

The Red Zone

A professor in undergrad once told my class that we surround ourselves with too much noise. People walking about with headphones and earbuds, podcasts and music, voices and voices and voices. All of it a cacophony never ceasing. Always focusing.

As I sit in the library attempting to focus on the reading assigned for class next week, I find myself drifting. My eyelids flutter and hands tingle and the pages feel slippery. Everything seems to turn to water.

I shudder awake and check the clock. It’s only been ten minutes.

I plug in my headphones believing that music will guide me back to the work at hand, that maybe it can offer up something along the lines of concentration. Instead, I mouth lyrics in the Red Zone.

The Red Zone is the area of the library where spoken word is forbidden, where coughing and sneezing is condemned, where the sultry and silent and sly thinkers find themselves in their black garments and gauzy scarves. It’s the domain of the quiet people. The people who are too serious. The people whose sole devotion is their work. The people married to their thesis topics and turtle necks. The people who get what college is for: learning.

The sun seeps through the shade of the trees and heats the carpet in pools near the windows. I go back to my classmates’ stories. Earning a break only after reading and offering critique. Wild imagination in action, I write down the words “dawn” and “down” for the next slant rhyme system before tossing all my things in a bag and exiting the Red Zone in search of a healthier release.

The benches outside the Aula Maxima are packed, so I stake out a free section of grass just beneath a bush blooming with orange flowers. I pluck a small bunch before pressing it into one of my books. I pull out my flask of peppermint tea and quinoa salad dotted with fruit and veggies. Removing my jacket, I let the sun kiss my arms and simply rest, thinking of nothing but the way a white wagtail calls out for a crumb inches from my meal.

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