Wesley Haaf '18
I don’t know when Peter Dinklage graduated from Bennington, but if I Googled it, I’d know, and then I could tell people exactly when he went to my school and graduated one year a long time ago, before my time. And yet, I feel the aura of Peter when I walk down First Street. Oh, I can see his feet tap down step by step on that sandy metal colored, crunchy rock road: tap, tap, tap, each step with his shoe, tap, tap, tap, all the way down the road, trotting up into Crossett, up the steps, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. And maybe he’d sit in the reading room upstairs. But then, after underlining an excellent, underrated passage of a hefty, tome-ish literary classic, he’d realize the autumn of outdoors would suit him better.
So he, urghh! pulls the sliding glass doors open, takes a step out with his eyes closed, breathes in through his nose, lets it out, opens his eyes and whispers to himself, “Ah, what a precious place… hmm… Bennington… I like the sound of that.” Joan Goodrich’s Secret Garden is one of my favorite spots on campus and it’s where I feel Peter the most.
Just a few days ago, when I was in the Barn, I could’ve sworn I felt his presence (it’s crazy I know) spilling out from within me. And the energy of the building was really surging up through my feet to my head, and I could just imagine the first time he walked the same hallways, how he’d made those floorboards squeak. I imagined the first time he stepped on a squeaky spot, how the sound made him do a little jump and look down and say, “What was that?” And I bet some walker-by, some turtlenecked, round-eyed lit faculty has a little laugh and says to Pete, “It’s just the wooden floor. This Barn is very old.” And near the end of my vision, I could hear Peter have his own little chuckle, clap his hands gently, like in golf, and say to himself, “Whoof! Just a floorboard… Time to pull it together, Peter.” Then the images faded, and I came to, snapping my neck around to re-acclimate my spirit to the Barn of 2016.
When it comes to the Bennington Bubble, it’s the little things that make me think about Peter Dinklage, how he saw the same sights I see, how he breathed the same sweet, VT breeze, how the same thoughts that plague me just might have crossed his mind, while he was on the same campus. I don’t know what it is, but ever since I came to Bennington, I’ve started to feel—and I know it might sound silly—I’ve begun to feel more and more like there’s a piece of him inside me, or, I don’t know, there’s a part of me that is him.
It’s like, we all come here to find out who we are, and that’s what Peter did, and that’s what I’m doing. It’s all very personal, this education, so you see how I feel like we’re connected?
And I feel like he’s sort of proud of me, from whatever, fifty, a hundred miles away, despite the fact he’s never met me, and may never ever.
And I know for a fact he thinks about everyone too, everyone at Bennington, whoever studies or teaches, cooks or cleans, gives or takes. He loved this place and he went here, for four years! His spirit lingers on! So please, would everyone join me—join each other!—put on your biggest, brightest Bennington Voice and, for our man Dink, let’s give him a big:
“THANK YOU, MR. DINKLAGE!”