The sun comes out, and suddenly I realize I need a place to sit. Outside. In the sunshine. Because here in Edinburgh, sunshine is a novelty and warm sunshine is even rarer. Today is a beautiful day and even if you couldn’t tell at all what the weather is, you would know it. Why?
Students. They’re everywhere, outside. Suddenly we find ourselves in need of places to sit down not in the library or Teviot Row House or study rooms or our flats. The exterior structure of the buildings we have thus far spent most of our time inside is now of extreme importance. And curiosity. Is it okay for me to sit here on the steps in front of the main library and the George Square Theatre? Generally, people use these stairs more as a way to get from the platform to the walkway, not as a sitting area. And I am the only one sitting here, but that may be more because of the lack of sun on this immediate space.
The little park in the center of George Square has a couple spokes of paved pathway (the rest is dirt and grass, both damp and rather unkind to trousers and backpacks), and only about ten benches scattered around the small park. At the bases of some of the trees, there is enough root exposed to allow relief from the moist muddy ground. There are stairs in front of 50 George Square that act mostly as an aesthetic break to the ramp and sloping cobblestone walkway. A ledge on the building next to that, with less than half a foot of “available” cement aged and colored from weather and time. The Informatics Building has a cleverly designed stoop of sorts with recesses that look suspiciously like seats, though they could also easily just be visual breaks of the white concrete monolith.
All of these spaces and more bear the weight of students interested in getting just a pinch of the sunshine today. It is around lunchtime after all, and the sun has coaxed many of us out of the library for just long enough to appreciate it, realize the sunshine is draining our laptop batteries because we have to turn the brightness up high enough to see our screens, and then return to the warm enclosures of these academic buildings. Some use the sun as an excuse to stand in line at one of the four or so food vendors that dot the square, rather than going to Sainsbury’s or Tesco to grab a packaged sandwich that will then be eaten in solitude inside. Me, I use it as an excuse to people-watch and procrastinate until my 2pm tutorial. It’s also making me aware of how few spaces I see as potential “acceptable” places to sit – mainly because I’ve never really seen people sitting in them…
But my fingers are quite cold, so I suppose I’m done now.