To this day, I haven’t purchased a single item from the Brew, yet I often find myself studying there for the smell and warm environment.
But one day, as I procrastinated studying for midterms, I opened a drawer in one of the front tables to find a trove of Marquette secrets, advice, stories and jokes.
I discovered inside three unassuming drawers in the campus coffee house, years of students’ anonymous handwritten notes, left for the people like me to find.
The locations are a part of the PostSecret community art project, started by Frank Warren, who spoke at Marquette in 2011. The project encourages participants to leave notes in hidden locations around the country. The notes can then be uploaded to the PostSecret blog for the site’s fans or more than 1.2 million Facebook followers.
Some Marquette students take advantage of this outlet as a way to disclose secrets, but the drawers on campus have taken on a life of their own. With less submissions matching the blog’s confessional-style notecards, the majority of folded up papers instead contain inspirational quotes or goals for the future. There are hundreds of notes stuffed in the drawers, along with written or carved messages on the tables themselves.
The quotes come from movies and famous people like Selena Gomez or Mother Teresa.
On one table, a “poet” of sorts provided some words of wisdom for passersby: “Today, you are you/that’s truer than true./And no one can be/ youer than you,” from Dr. Suess. The note continues on the back quoting rapper T.I., “With the spirit of a hustler and the swagger of a college kid.”
If I am ever need a pep talk, these drawers will be my Vince Lombardi.
Many of the notes are less serious or inspirational, but still provide a distraction from the hectic college lifestyle. One note written on a ripped gum package that reads, “I hate people with bad breath,” had me laughing hysterically while people across the Brew stared in my direction.
These drawers are havens for students with an artistic side. They may not be Michelangelo’s, but the notes can come with a Gary Larson brand of humor.
One picture of an elderly gentleman in a suit with a beard, bow tie, cane, sunglasses and Charlie Chaplin hat reads, “Excuse me young lady, care to go on a date with an ol’ timer like me? Screw studying,” is my personal favorite.
There are also more serious notes which express sorrow, tell a short story and speak to readers who might be having a bad day. Something as simple as a smile can brighten someone’s mood, and so can a note in the Brew that says, “It gets better.”
Now the inspirational words can touch emotions and many of the authors’ struggles are relatable, but some of best finds are the few love notes.
They can be as basic as, “Catering girl is an attractive girl,” and, “Juan Anderson stole my heart.” Others are more deep and specific.
“I cheated on my boyfriend with my best friend,” reads a note signed, hopefully + horrible. “Oh! I forgot to mention the fact that I fell in love with this friend.”
Whether or not you agree with the situation, reading the page long story is gripping enough to make you want to dig deeper and solve the mystery of this scandalous endeavor.
Finally in the drawer, there are the secrets, following PostSecret’s initial misson. Though there aren’t many, they’re there if you search.
Some that say, “I hate my sorority,” and, “I peed my bed … twice. That’s how much fun I had,” are as bad as it gets for most of the secrets. But hidden among the piles of light confessions, there are a few juicy one’s I’ll let you search for yourself.
Though many students have still not discovered the drawers of secrets, reading and writing the messages has become a hobby for some on campus.
Alex Whalen, a senior in the College of Communication who frequents the Brew, has discovered special meaning in reading the letters.
“They’re funny, they’re sad, they’re meaningful,” Whalen said. “Basically they’re a college student in a letter.”
Lauren Dewitt, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, also recently discovered the drawers and is quickly becoming a big fan.
“Well I just found out about them a couple weeks ago, but they’re always entertaining,” Dewitt said. “I always try to sit at one of (the tables) because it’s just a nice study break. It’s kind of fun to read; some people write really weird and abstract things that make absolutely no sense.”
Whatever the motive, whatever the reason, people will continue to fill these drawers with notes that bring together different walks of life. They are more than just slips of paper with gibberish on them. They can make you smile, chuckle or feel warm and fuzzy and all that other emotional fluff.
So next time you’re in the Brew, discover what those who came before have left, leave something of your own, or just avoid studying. Just know that a bit of Marquette student history is close at hand.