This year has dragged its feet as it flew by, and the other night, I stalled in the middle of an all-nighter. I hit a creative vacuum. I’d had too much coffee, too little sleep and too many all-nighters, but something was missing.
After two hours of laying on the carpet staring at the ceiling, I realized I needed to go to the zoo.
I posted it on my Facebook status before I fell asleep — “Going to the zoo! Gonna see some big f—ing animals! TXT me if you want to come!”
Essentially, the point of the trip was to find out why we are here, and I don’t mean here as in Temple. I mean here.
Two friends were in need of the same infusion, so we slept late and skipped our Friday classes. I missed two teaching assistants paying their dues, one graduate student struggling to deal with her own homework while teaching Lolita and one math teacher who told us at the beginning, “Don’t come if you don’t want to come.”
In exchange for missing my classes and hurting my grades, I received a perfect Friday afternoon. You can decide whether it was worth it.
Two friends and I arrived at the Philadelphia Zoo by mid-afternoon. The zoo, located at 34th Street and Girard Avenue, is the oldest zoo in the United States. It has monkeys, elephants, hippos – lions, tigers and bears. It has this huge sculpture that looks like a ram, styled by the illustrator for Where the Wild Things Are.
There’s also an elephant shrew, but he seems to hide underneath the wood chips, giggling because you can’t see him, and he knows how desperately you want to know what an elephant shrew looks like.
We saw gorillas fight, and it was as amazing as you would dream.
The only thing that kept the day from being 100 percent perfect was the darn kids that we now, as adults, have to let up to the front so they can see. But they don’t even seem to appreciate it. At one point, a certain brat wandered too far from her mom, and I thought for a long second, I could probably teach them all a lesson by quickly tossing this one into an animal cage, but I missed my window.
There was also a creepy, hippie-looking kid (most likely tripping on acid) who we kept running into, thanks to the natural lazy river of crowds at zoos. He looked like British comedian Russel Brand, from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and the way he stared at the glass, it looked like he may have been there to free the gorillas. The paranoia side effect of whatever drug he was on must’ve kicked in because he noticed our curious glare and spent the rest of his day looking over his shoulder at us like we were the time police.
The point is, sometimes you just need to go to the zoo and see some big animals. That sounds stupid, right? Well, it’s true. Sometime, in the next week or two, you will stare at a blank page with a stretched brain, and the harder you work, the more options you’ll have to face.
Go to work, or go to the zoo? I fully acknowledge the reality of grades and their relationship to things like scholarships and internships, but there is a greater lack of purpose to our time here. So, go watch a red panda nap in a hammock because it will make you happy.
Greg Trainor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.