Homecoming 2014: The Hero's Journey
On an unfortunate day for English students everywhere, American scholar Joseph Campbell devised the twelve steps of the “Hero’s Journey," an outline that can be applied to myths ranging from Lilo and Stitch to the epic poem Beowulf to how your parents met.
This is the story of one college freshman’s very first homecoming game, and how an afternoon promising day drunk, belligerent bliss evolved into an evening of sobriety, resentment of the opposite sex, and arriving overdressed to late night dinners (aka high school homecoming.)
The Hero:“The person who goes out and achieves great deeds on behalf of the group, tribe, or civilization.”
1.) THE ORDINARY WORLD
This day begins like any other, with me waking up on cloud 9 in my motherfucking lofted bed hungover and completely disinclined to move.
Then comes a typical Saturday morning workout during which I sweat out the guilt I accumulated the night before, followed by an hour of pretending to do homework. I eat some cereal.
2.) THE CALL TO ADVENTURE
The ordinary world is suddenly disrupted by the reminder that…
Not shitty, pictures with your parents and awkward limo drive to Macaroni Grill homecoming,
FUN, CASUAL, DAY DRUNK HOMECOMING!!!
The texts start flooding in.
“What time should we start drinking?”
“Hey I already started drinking.”
“When are you gonna leave???”
“Something about Asbury street.”
But I’m beginning to have second thoughts…
3.) REFUSAL OF THE CALL
Really? We’re going right back at this? I barely slept last night and it’s freezing outside and I’m exhausted and we’re probably going to lose anyway and…oh yeah sure I’ll take that drink, thanks.
4.) MEETING WITH THE MENTOR
The mentor arrives to supply the hero with the tools, training, or advice he (or she! Remember Lilo?) needs to summon courage and strength from within and continue on their journey. In this case as in many cases my mentor is alcohol.
5.) CROSSING THE THRESHOLD
We’re finally out the door and find ourselves corralled like the animals that we are in a backyard filled with 20-year-olds and beer. Hey, it doesn’t even feel that cold anymore!! ADVENTURE AWAITS!
6.) TESTS, ALLIES AND ENEMIES
The Porta Potty Test
I discover one of my greatest enemies in this world is my bladder capacity.
I also reinforce my allegiances to Northwestern students while standing in line next to all the white trash, overweight, revolting cornhuskers.
The White Boy Wasted Test
I hope the lord will consider this test when contemplating where to place my soul for eternity.
Literally ten paces from the stadium, my group is stopped dead in its tracks when the most white boy wasted of all white boys that have been wasted discovers he is covered in mud and missing his iPhone.
“I probably lost it when I fell in that puddle,” the king of temporal reasoning declares.
Various members of the group are equally trashed and it’s a wonder they even made it this far.
Which brings us to…
7.) THE APPROACH
During the approach the hero and company prepare for the ordeal (see below.) We must slay our Grendel: getting everyone home.
I take a deep breath, summon the last patience I have within myself (little did I know that patience was going to have to stretch very, very far) and turn to face where I came from just five minutes earlier.
8.) THE ORDEAL
We begin the ten block journey, slowed down by the fact that no one can walk. I attempt to carry someone twice my size while he insists repeatedly on calling his mom.
9.) THE REWARD
Wait there’s a supposed to be a reward?
This isn’t even a Hero’s Journey after all.
10) THE ROAD BACK
Yup, still carrying everyone, thanks.
11.) THE RESURRECTION
Determined to resurrect the evening by eating my feelings, I resolve that we are all putting nice clothes on and SO HELP US GOD we are going out to dinner.
12.) RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR
There is no elixir.
I’m no hero.
I’m just a girl in a dress and heels contemplating lesbian paganism as an alternative to how poorly being straight and agnostic has worked out.
My friend next to me, who was unconscious with his head on the table moments before, asks if I’m going to finish that. I am.
He also says he doesn’t have money so I’m going to have to pay. I do.
13.) THE RESIGNATION OF ALL HOPE
This is not a usual step. I am supposed to have transformed and be in possession of an object that will transform the world. But reality sucks. Reality is not epic like the epic poem Beowulf.
I am overdressed, too sober, embarrassed by my company, and ready for this evening to be over. It’s not even 9 pm.
Just like high school homecoming, except this time I can’t call my mom to come pick me up.