1:45 a.m. I wake with a jolt to the sound of the line monitors’ bullhorns—it seems like my body has more of a reaction to the distinct sound of these sirens now than it does to the sound of sirens that would go off during a real emergency. (Duke privilege, anyone?) I shake my friend awake, and the two of us stumble in the dark, zombie-like, as masses of other tenters make their way to the check-in area.
*Record scratch.* You might be wondering how I found myself in this situation.
When I visited Duke for Blue Devil Days, my tour guide described the whole concept of tenting to the crowd of p-froshes I found myself in. As he went through the stages of black, blue and white tenting, I could see a couple emotions cross my fellow p-froshes’ faces: confusion, excitement, even a little fear. I had definitely felt all three. I thought to myself, Who would ever pay money for a nice comfortable dorm room, and then choose to sleep out in the cold in a tent?
Flash forward a couple of years... I’m a junior now, and I’ve tented for every year that I’ve been here. Despite snowfall and rainfall and a flu season so bad that Krzyzewskiville was shut down for two weeks, year after year, so many of us still come back to campus from winter break eager to call K-ville home.
Perhaps tenting is like childbirth. Bear with me for a second here:
Researchers seem to agree that childbirth is the most painful experience in a mother’s life, yet in a study performed in 2009, about 60 percent of women report a positive experience with childbirth, and less than ten percent had a negative experience.
This discrepancy is attributed to the 'halo effect,' the joy that comes from the endorphin rush after a woman gives birth. The surge in endorphins does not erase the pain and discomfort of labor completely, but the happiness supersedes the pain.
I won’t belabor this analogy, pun unintented.
I’m not trying to say that tenting is the “most painful experience” of a Duke student’s life, because that’s far from the truth. But it is true that when I look back on my last three years of tenting, what I remember is sprinting off the CCX to K-ville with my first-year tent to make it to our night shift after losing track of time at a friend’s birthday party on Central campus. I remember little things, like everyone repetitively sending a dancing cat GIF into our group chat. When I think of my sophomore tenting season, I remember the ottoman that we used to hold our communal tent snacks, and all of us wearing clout goggles at the game and standing a couple feet away from Ken Jeong. I remember the post-game euphoria and burning benches and trying to get into a very packed game day Shooters afterwards (I currently have a 50 percent success rate).
It takes me a while before I get to the memories of sleeping in 40 degree weather, but even then, I think of 40 degrees as “not that cold” when there are ten people packed in the tent, staying up late sharing stories or playing Resistance. Similarly, memories of being woken up every hour are likewise associated with the McDonald’s runs that my tent would make in the grace periods post-tent checks.
Social culture at Duke is often criticized as being exclusive in many ways, and I don’t disagree. Maybe this contributes to why I’m such a big fan of tenting, because as ridiculous and Crazie as it is, there’s definitely a sense of community that comes with it. I see this in the inflatable pool that popped up in K-ville in the couple of days we had of warm weather last week, in all of the Instagram accounts created to document each tent’s experience, and in the not-line-monitor jackets that Ryan Bergamini has been selling. And of course, nothing beats the feeling of community in Cameron Indoor Stadium during game day, everyone painted blue and dancing to “Everytime We Touch.”
Tonight marks the first night of P-Checks. Another tenting season has come and gone, and soon the mass of tents known as K-ville will be nothing more than a large pile of trampled fabric. I know game day is fast approaching when I see tenters proudly wearing their plastic Duke vs. U.N.C. wristbands, and when the “Friend Activity” section of my Spotify is just people listening to Cascada on repeat.
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But for now, at the time of writing this column, all I’m doing is praying that my tent doesn’t miss another check. See you soon, Carolina!
Emily Liu is a Trinity junior. Her column runs on alternate Fridays.