Illustrated by Patrick Daugherty

Live, Laugh, Gap

Caroline Smith

I needed a community. Something to relate to other people with. Something spatial, concrete, and perpetual.

Then I found the gap.

Supposedly, if you are walking to campus from the north, you will pass the Go Beach sign and make a sharp left into the open path ahead of you. A concrete walking path that takes you past the USU and up the escalators. It is wide and welcomes you.

But I do not embrace the open path, I make an oblique for the gap. In between a column and a wall. Daily 49er box and a railing.

The gap. The allure of a shortcut. The illusion of free choice. What is its purpose but to tempt. The snake in the garden of Eden, whispering in the student’s ear to forsake convention. You see it ahead of you. Do you go through the main walkway, or take the adventurous route?

Robert Frost said,

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

I say,

“Two paths diverged in a college campus, and I--
I took the one that seems slightly shorter,
And that has made small the difference.”

The gap is an excellent conversation starter.

“My mind is under the control of the gap and I cannot escape.” --Melanie Perez “I just always gravitate towards the gap. Like I can’t not walk through it… I feel like I’m neglecting that little bit of space if I don’t walk through it.” - Lucy Dallavo

The gap beckons, “Walk through, walk through. There is nothing holding you back. You can slip through like water in a gutter, like a bubble in the wind, like a child on a slip n’ slide. You will be a ghost, passing through a wall. The gap will make your life easier. The gap will make you more efficient.”

But of course the gap is a threat. If I keep using the gap, I might start considering other shortcuts. Going through the USU instead of taking the stretch of stairs. Cutting across the grass. Traipsing through a planter of succulents. What will I do when the escalator stops working again? Will I be discouraged to continue the rest of the day? Or will I occupy myself by trying to find another shortcut? Will I keep thinking about shortcuts until I am late for class?

The gap is the sun, and I am Icarus, destined to fly too close and have my wings melt away.

But I love the gap. I praise the gap. I join the chorus of Long Beach students that worship the gap. All of us, business and art majors, freshman and seniors, local and international, we are united by our love and momentary indulgence in the one and only gap.