The Bryn Mawr Breakfast Club that meets all night
By Devanshi Vaid
The night is cold. It is sharp enough to shake you awake and foggy enough keep you believing that you are existing in a space of suspended reality. Laughter rings in the misty, cloudless sky. The joke is unimportant.
What is important is that Mine Serizawa is doubled over, Meghna Singh is wiping tears away from her face, Amanda Fernandez is grinning stupidly and Lisa Klinman is laughing so hard she almost chokes on the smoke from her cigarette.
It is 4:20 a.m. on a regular Monday morning. Serizawa, Singh, Fernandez and Klinman are still awake and are at The Lusty Cup – a café and 24 hour computer lab located at the bottom floor of Canaday Library at Bryn Mawr College.
Some college students pull all-nighters when they are desperate. This group pulls them because they like them. It’s part of their regular study routine — and their night had just hit its peak.
Once inside, Serizawa and Singh went back to their computers. Singh packed up, she’s going to bed. Meanwhile, Klinman, 20, a senior from Maryland, D.C., curled up on one of the four couches in Lusty, grabbed a jacket that was lying nearby, placed it under her head and closed her eyes. It was time for a nap.
It does not matter much who the jacket belongs to. Inhabitants of Lusty Cup at this hour are most likely to all be members of the Breakfast Club – they have grown to be friends over the course of the countless nights they spend together at this café.
Needless to say, the four of them had been here for a while.
Klinman entered Lusty with her friends Julia Stuart and Maura Barrett. At this time, the Lusty was well populated – there were groups of students studying, people getting coffee, others checking their email and hanging out.
The atmosphere was lively. The night was ending for a few of the people here, and just about beginning for a few others. However, the ones that were going to be in the café for a long time made themselves prominent.
Klinman and her friends headed to a table at the back where they set up. They were prepared for the night – dressed almost uniformly in sweatpants and comfortable t-shirts, they were armed with bottles of caffeinated drinks, bags of food and candy.
Their work was frequently interrupted with conversation about recent dates, rugby, and comments from the endless stream of passersby. They didn’t forget to talk about the things they were supposed to be studying.
“On Friday, I said I was going to write an outline for my final paper. Until now I’ve got six potential titles…” said Stuart. “I’m giving myself an extension on this outline.” Self proclaimed extensions are valid, the three of them were preparing for finals week and were attempting to work ahead.
“So anyway,” said Klinman looking at her Political Science paper, “back to genocide?”
The door to the media lab (adjacent to the room they’re in) slammed shut.
“Ouch,” said Stuart, looking at the people at her table. “Well, I work in Lusty because I work well around noise.”
Serizawa, Singh and Fernandez waltzed in. Before starting their work, they made their rounds around Lusty, talking to their friends and other regular inhabitants. Once they’d settled down beside Klinman and her friends, they looked around them.
“I don’t come here to get shit done. I come here knowing I’m probably not going to get shit done,” said Eva Sharma, a freshman from New Jersey. She watches as people walk around making friendly conversation and continues, “I come here as a stressed out freshman who wants nothing more than to be with stressed out upperclassmen. When I’m with them, I realize I’m going to have to get my shit together. I verbalize this constantly, and someone is always here to reassure me that I can do it… I think that’s what I love about Lusty – people are always coming and going, but it’s more or less the same crowd every night.”
Fernandez agrees. “Last semester, I spent a whole month in Canaday for finals. It had no positive impact on my academic performance. Not at all” she said. But before anyone else could get a word in, she continued, “However, ask me how many fascinating people I met and how many cups of tea I made in the faculty lounge, how many trips to Wawa I made, the pounds I subsequently gained, the cigarettes I chain smoked, the levels I beat on Smurfs Gameboy Color, the naps I took—I think all these would amount to more than any kind of “knowledge” I would “acquire” from jumping through academic hoops. The experiences I gain from being in this place mean so much more in the long run than my GPA or the lack of showers that that week amounted in.”
On that note, the seven of them went outside to have a cigarette. Klinman, Sharma, Barrett and Stuart were taking a break from their work; Singh Fernandez and Serizawa were preparing to start theirs.
After a few hours of working, they went back outside for another cigarette.
Their cigarette breaks are filled with conversations about theories they’re reading, idea’s they have and how things they’re talking about relate to experiences they’ve had.
“Butler talks a lot about visibility…” said Klinman referring to the reading she had to do for class. “How do you think she feels on a campus where she is hyper visible, and subsequently invisible?”
In the background, a computer that was brought outside rang with Totally Fucked a song from Spring Awakening. There’s a moment you know/you’re fucked/not an inch more room/to self destruct…
Fernandez and Serizawa begin adding their own verses and lyrics to the song, and the group erupts in laughter. As far as this group is concerned, the night is a time to thrive. And thrive they do – on friendship, dance parties, smoke breaks, and mass amounts of work that eventually gets done.
Serizawa walked over to Klinman and roused her from her nap. With a look of determination she resists lying down and falling asleep next to her.
It was time to get ready for breakfast.
The breakfast club is seen frequently in the dining hall at 7:30 a.m. Groggy and cynical they wonder how people who wake up for breakfast do it.
“They judge us for smoking this early,” said Klinman. “But really, it’s still nighttime for us.”
And as they made their way to breakfast, in silence they acknowledge that the morning people have reclaimed their night and made it their day.
They don’t spend time pondering on it though, after all, it’s now tomorrow. And tomorrow brings another night in Lusty, hopefully, with enough time to nap in between.