BY MIA PENNEKAMP ’20
It’s the first day of a new semester. January, icy. You need gloves or pockets and shoes with grip. When the sun peeks out beneath the gray sky for a moment, you can close your eyes and almost feel the sweet sweaty humidity of the Miami club where your hair went curly and your inhibitions loose just a few weeks ago. Fun, you think fondly to yourself. You climb up the large wooden staircase to your third floor seminar, feeling that familiar burning in your quads. Once seated around the table, your professor makes a request. Introductions: name, class year, preferred pronouns and a fun fact.
It’s the word “fun” that trips you up. What fact about my life constitutes as fun? I am so fun, you think. How much time do you have? But really, you wonder what the right answer is. Something past, present, recurring?
I once worked as a Disney Princess. I am a twin. I swam with sharks, but mostly for the Instagram photo. My favorite color is green; it used to be purple. On the first day of last semester, I had to make an impromptu visit to urgent care after a run-in with a box cutter — but I made it to class on time! I have a massive mosquito bite on my left ass cheek acquired during my aforementioned time in Florida. I prefer coffee over tea. I am currently resurging from a completely unexpected and unprecedented period of grief for which I felt utterly unprepared. It has shown me a new gentleness. Last semester, like most, was full of firsts. It was hard in a way I have not experienced before. Thankfully I was here. Thankfully I was in a writing class, where I thought extensively about loss and change and sparkly lip gloss. Hi, I’m Mia and my fun fact is that this building and these stairs and this rock-hard wooden chair that makes my nether regions fall asleep feels steadying. Or maybe, hey, I’m just happy to be back feeling more like myself. And feeling all the warm and fuzzies of a stimulating course, of a place where I have the privilege to learn and absorb and drink and dance and slip on ice because I do not wear shoes with grip.
What if the facts at the forefront of your mind are maybe not so fun? How do you reconcile? What do you say? I don’t know. But for that day I went with “I once worked as a Disney Princess.” It’s a real crowd-pleaser.