I walk cross-country right into Exeter boarding school and, because it’s so big, nearly get away with passing myself off as a student. I drift around the place, sitting down in a large auditorium lecture class, more attentive to the students and the prevailing culture than any academics going on—affluent, smart, privileged kids—good-looking for the most part and deeply integrated into the institutional world. I go to the bookstore and am awestruck by how many fine and non-essential material wares they can sign away for. I walk down a sharply downward-angled hallway, a sort of staircase hybrid, architecturally distinct, and muddle my way through the maze of the place, trying not to let on what a trespasser I am. I cut across the beautiful autumn campus, sprawling dormitory buildings, wide hillsides, picturesque students walking to class—maybe this happens when I’m cutting out away cross-country once again at the end of the dream—but before that I get pulled into the dean’s office—maybe they’re getting suspicious, or maybe I’m just standing in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I end up trying to pass myself off as a student, give them my name and stand there, heart pounding while they pull up a record for another sarah townsend who’s slated to teach composition—and it all seems too providential to pass up, so I say it’s me, lie about my social security number, and then stand there with a sinking heart just waiting for the truth to be revealed and my charade to blossom into flames around me.

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