Beneath the Wightman Gym Pool

Posted: Saturday March 1, 2014

I would walk around campus incessantly, every opportunity of down time existed as an excuse to keep moving. Between classes, on breaks, to get lunch, through the woods, on the roads, inside buildings, around buildings, up stairs, down stairs, past people, at night, through the snow, in the rain, on the hottest days, coldest nights, and always to my car which I always parked in the most distant spot in the farthest lot. My entire daily routine was based around walking, and if I physically couldn't, then I'd be thinking about where I'd walk next. I would often walk while listening to the same song repeat on my iPod for hours. I loved the repetition of music blasting through headphones into my ears over and over and over, the sounds flowed so gracefully with the rhythm of walking. Often I would find myself hooked to short little bits of various songs; rewinding again and again to a specific time within the song to hear the addicting hook loop over without letting the entire length of the track play through. Walking was how I killed the maddening eight hour breaks between classes, walking was how I studied, completed group projects, socialized, isolated myself, stayed sane, fulfilled my mind. I walked every day for four years, never missed a day and always discovered something new. It's the only aspect I truly miss of college.

I particularly enjoyed walking through the various buildings on campus. During my last two years attending college I became obsessed with finding new doors I had never walked through before. Locked or unlocked, alarmed or unarmed, I always found a way through, I had the tools, the mind, the smarts, the dedication, the time. I suppose I thought a bit like a bank robber, but acted more like an artist. This obsession at first was quite a challenge, but it kept my constantly running mind at bay. And any break from thinking was the most beautiful temporary pause of the white noise bouncing through my satellite head I could ever ask of. The curiosity of finding and being that which where I shouldn't be kept the otherwise scattered frequencies in my mind buzzing at manageable rate, just shy of insanity.

This relieving feeling of normalcy in the mind became addicting and so I didn't stop searching and within just a few months time I had walked every floor of every building on campus and found every door to every spot I wasn't supposed to be. Basements, rooftops, elevator shafts, fire stairwells, boiler rooms, loading docks, kitchens, private lounges, water mains, HVAC systems, the dean's office, computer server rooms, attics, back stage, under stage, locked balconies, steam tunnels, in the power plant, garages, projection rooms, beneath the auditoriums. I found it all, from secret hidden rooms to financial paperwork and private records, it was all fair game, unsecured, watched by nobody. Sometimes I'd get caught poking around by a janitor which was never really an issue, rather more of just an awkward run-in, because shit, I knew about as much Spanish as he or she did English, so we'd both pretend we were invisible and saw nothing. Other times more of an authoritative force would spot me such as a security guard or one of the Universities swinest. Still no sweat. Act cool, talk cool, or run.

Sometimes when I'd find a spot of particular interest I'd rig a door or some sneaky point of entrance so that access would stay open just long enough for me to easily sneak back in with my camera and grab a few shots at a later time. And so I found myself photographing these findings merely out of thrill and for a bit of photographic evidence. Nothing particularly interesting about these spaces motived me to seek and explore them. They weren't abandoned, decayed, or covered in graffiti. They were instead dirty, hot, claustrophobic, out-of-sight, and void of people. There exists no back history worth shit to anyone, they were just hidden, unknown spots, visited only by custodians, but certainly never a paying student and that was the thrill of it all, accessing such spaces and leaving just the slightest trace to boggle the next legitimates visitor's mind. It was because of these misadventures that I began to developed an intense fascination with hidden unseen infrastructure, interwoven with accessing it all without permission, keys, or sweet-talking.

I learned to traverse entire buildings, undetected, like a sly NYC sewer rat, emerging into the recognizable world of light, covered with dust, itchy insulation fibers, and sweat. Sometimes I made it a silly game in my mind to get from point A to B without passing a single human through means of accessing basement levels, untraveled attic space, or whatever I could find to walk. Often after such impromptu infrastructure adventures I'd mope into class and plop into a chair where just minutes ago I was directly underneath the floor in small dank crawlspace.

Class was where the fun had to stop, it's where my mind would again become over stimulated, bogged down with endless thought patterns, ideas of adventure, the color blue, cats, music, sounds, all of which blended together and formed into a mental record which played to my brain but for only my conscience to hear. At times my cranium felt like a packed sports stadium where internal screaming and shouting would deafen out the boring professor towards the front of the classroom standing next to a smudged whiteboard, dressed in suit and tie, blabbering on and on, speaking of nothing and everything, until finally it was again time to walk somewhere, anywhere.

Maybe theses following pictures will ruin it for the rest, but that'd be silly of me to think really, as there is no rest for the wicked, nor is there any wicked, just a population of boring students, brain dead about the built environment beneath their very feet. They ride busses to avoid their legs and sit in comfy chairs underneath roofs as the weather passes by. But by chance I'm misguided, opportunities will always exist to discover new and explore more. I graduated knowing I saw everything I could within the time I had, I dented the surface of physical curiosity, but I'll leave it as a challenge for anyone else interesting enough to pick up where I end my story. I can assure you I've left the rope leading to adventure dangling freely, but you'll have to figure out where to find it and how to reach it, as I don't want just any cookie-cutter fool grabbing ahold or accidentally hanging themselves. Explore on William Paterson University. Figure out what the fuck it's about, think outside the classroom. Or don't.

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