Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Dillo holiday

Happy Dillo Day to one and all.

I was greeted this morning with a text that said "Happy holidays!" For some reason, this day that is utterly insignificant and which anyone who doesn't go to my school could care less about, warrants the same greeting as Christmas and the New Year.

Not that I mind.

For those who don't know, Dillo Day is a concert series that occurs one day a year here. Acts are revealed starting a few weeks in advance of the show and on the day of the Dillo (short for 'armadillo'), the stage is set up at the Lakefill on campus, fully surrounded by food trucks, tents with activities and free things. Lots of free things.

I think one of the greatest things about going to my school is that we have fun traditions and despite our nerdiness, we have the capacity to act like a "regular" school. One that isn't all about academics. Even though I err on the side of the overworked, straight-laced nerds, I can appreciate that we are a university with character. Where people - including someone who just walked past my window - feel free to scream, "I have a spray bottle full of shots. IT'S GIN!" at the top of their lungs.

This isn't my scene. But it's all right by me to watch it walk by and laugh at it, shaking my head as the partiers pass and being glad that I'm who I am and they can be who they are.

At 12 o'clock noon, my friends and I sat in one of our suites and talked about what our plans were for the day. We grabbed our purses and put on the shoes we thought could best last in the mud, thought about whether or not jackets were necessary and walked out the door to be greeted by the warmth (and looming thunderstorms) of spring.

As we made our way to the line that was forming to enter the Dillo Day concert grounds, we saw one guy fall over and roll around in the grass proclaiming he was just too drunk. If we didn't know where we were up until then, there was certainly no question anymore.

The wait was excruciating. People were talking at ever-increasing decibels and as some began pulling out cigarettes, more and more joined in on the lung-charring revelry.

For a while I couldn't understand why I was even there. Inhaling the ether of these people whom I don't recognize isn't my cup of tea. They may go to my college, but I've not seen them once around campus. And I don't think I ever really wanted to see them anyway.

All the ghosts and ghouls may come out on Halloween, but on Dillo Day all the drunken fratboys come out. Which of these is more entertaining, I wonder.

The experience of going to an event like this is entirely unlike anything else on campus. Aside from seeing people you've never met in your life or never hope to encounter again, it's a time when you can't avoid stumbling into people you have actively chosen to never see again.

Bringing people together in one corner of campus is like forcing all the awkward memories to resurface. And all within a few hours' time.

While it is a time for seeing that someone you've had your eye on and forgotten about for the past few months, it's also a time for seeing that person you had your eye on and wish you'd forgotten but never did.

I kept telling my friend that it was the day of reminders of failed romances. Or crushes. Or whatever the equivalent is once you get past elementary school.

It felt like no matter how hard I tried to avoid it, I was being forced into a melting pot with all the people I never cared to encounter again.

So while everyone else enjoyed their blissful, mindless, worry-less drunkenness,  I was all too aware of the fact that I was out of my element, out of my comfort zone and surrounded by people who made me feel out of place.

With all the over-activity in my mind, I couldn't have felt less like this was a holiday. Aside from the promise of a tie-dye shirt, I had nothing to really look forward to. The music? I don't like much popular music. The crowd? Who are these people is the real question. The activities? They're not all that exciting.

I think the one pleasure of this day - at least for the permanently sober me - is the time I got to spend forgetting that I go to this academic-intensive school. Other people do this by purposely forcing themselves into a state of incoherence. They want to make sure that they can enjoy their time so they remove any possibility of experiencing the world outside of their altered brains.

I can't do that. I choose not to do that.

But I still have a nice time. Sitting on the sidelines with my friends or waiting in line to take pictures or playing frisbee or eating empanadas.

I think for a lot of people it seems strange to go to a big event like this and not take the opportunity to go absolutely crazy. But people enjoy their lives in different ways and we're free to choose our own paths, our own methods of happiness.

Some may run outside their rooms yelling about the gin they're "hiding" (you're not doing a very good job if you scream about it upon leaving your dorm). Others may go to parties off campus and turn themselves into insatiable drones, inundated by the plethora of substances at their disposal.

And then there's me. And there are my friends. We don't partake in that little slice of college life. Maybe this isn't a holiday for us as a result.

But we made memories too. And tomorrow we'll definitely remember them.


  1. This is exactly what I needed to read today. I've been having difficulty accepting that I'm not the extroverted person I sometimes wish I were, and that no matter what I do, I will always prefer to sit alone, contemplating. I'm meant to live on the sidelines, which I'm coming to appreciate for what it is. On a day like today, where it seems like literally everyone was out partying, it's nice to be reminded that I'm not alone. Thanks. -B

  2. I really wish I could like your comment, B.

    For a long time I thought my introversion was something negative - that I was missing out on experiences because I wasn't partaking in extroverted activities. But I've learned recently that the real fun to be had is that which fits you best - whether you're an extrovert or an introvert. You create your own happiness by doing what's best for you.

    And just a side note: In my humble opinion, introverted fun can be twice as enjoyable as extroverted fun.

  3. I was partially dreading today because I thought it would work to remind me of the self-defeating notion that my ideal lifestyle does not fit the unfairly-deemed "right" one, in which college students are supposed to love partying and are required to be as refined in the art of drinking as other artists are in their respective mediums. But I was pleasantly surprised. Without compromising my identity, I was able to have one of the best days of my college experience today. To each his own, as they say. I may not be having the "traditional" college experience, but I now understand that doesn't mean that mine is any less enriching. Anyway, I digress. Great post! -B