Joe Kind, A Guy

by Joe Kind | 9/24/15 6:46pm

What a week. Senior year is here, and boy is it here to stay.

After talking a bit about my adjustments to the beginning of college, it is only fitting that I divulge briefly into my end-of-college observations.

I returned to Hanover mid-day Tuesday, Sept. 15. I had flown on my umpteenth red-eye, sweetly asleep thanks to my good friend Ambien. I had found and chatted with familiar faces last seen long ago, in both the San Francisco and Boston airports. What else can a Dartmouth senior expect? I mean, really.

I had my “senior” moment early on into arriving on campus — that instant realization of newfound seniority sweeping over like a crashing ocean wave. Unanticipated, strong and beautiful.

I was hauling my boxes on those bulky trolleys from North Fay to the River Apartments. These trolleys are somewhat shaky, largely due to aging wheels and stubborn handles. They aren’t exactly ideal compared to a car, but they get the job done. On any other hot summer afternoon, pushing a full trolley across the Green and down Tuck Drive would prove cumbersome, to put it mildly. Somewhere around the Blunt Alumni Center, though, I paused. Hands gripped hard into the trolley’s side rails, my body straightened. My nostrils opened for a hefty breath, and I realized that I had not felt a single stream of sweat running down my back. A cool, calm confidence suddenly took over my body. I was a senior, self-assured and finally ready. Out of nowhere, I physically felt great, like I could have moved boxes all around campus for a living — maybe even enjoy doing it.

And then I saw heavyweight rowers heaving my roommates’ full beds up three flights of stairs.

My senior self relished in the first impressions of my on-campus apartment. I was greeted with my roommates’ usual friendliness, and I loved the vibes of the open common room and kitchen. But as soon as I opened the door to my single, everything felt wrong. I had coincidentally just read a random internet article on my phone about the basics of feng shui, and I knew right away that the pre-existing layout of the room was not going to satisfy me and my inner chi.

I spent the rest of my free time that day contemplating new ways to arrange the bed, bookshelf, desk and dresser. And at the end of it all, I could feel my senior self recoiling.

There was still so much to unpack and so much to buy for the room and the apartment — let alone the classes that needed to be settled, the job applications that needed to be started (and submitted!), the almost-executed plans to catch up with good friends and everything in between. Their order of importance still bounces around frantically in my head of newly cut hair.

In spite of the relative ease with which I have embraced the first few days of 15F, I still haven’t unpacked. Several boxes sit on various edges of my walls, waiting to be opened and examined and emptied. My three roommates, meanwhile, have all folded up their empty boxes and tucked them away under their beds. Their walls are adorned with new posters and old photographs. Their desks have been transformed into a minimalist’s dream. Their singles are vibrant and complete and utterly them.

I pulled a similar stunt many years ago, when my family moved houses. My parents bought a three-floored house five minutes away from our cozy one-floored apartment. We moved in 2003. I remember making the announcement to my teachers and classmates one spring Monday. We were starting the week as any other in third grade — in a circle, sitting criss-cross applesauce, of course. I announced my family’s move to wide little eyes. “You’re leaving?!” They asked me. “No,” I clarified. “We’re just moving to a different neighborhood. I’ll be here next year.” I guess I told the news with a bit of commotion.

When we first moved into that new house off of Geary Boulevard, I happily accepted my new larger bedroom — but I refused to unpack. I wasn’t ready to give up my old house and the memories I would be leaving there.

I am old enough to realize now that moving into a new room on campus does not require any kind of memory sacrifice. I tell myself that my hesitancy to furnish my new living space is most likely a projection of my anxieties for change, only repurposed from my third-grade behavior.

This year’s arrival to campus marks not only a hesitancy to really take on the inevitable changes to come in the coming year, but also a sheepish refusal to embrace the fact that the changes to come later this year will only lead to more changes next year. The result: a living space marked by paralysis.

My attending college was, thankfully, never a question — more so an easy way out of the most difficult decisions I will face in my future.

The next time I will be packing my things, I will be leaving Dartmouth for a while. On to bigger and better things, so they say. I’ll likely return for my class reunions, but who knows? In allowing myself to unpack this year, I will have to accept the inevitable fate for which I am not at all prepared.

Becoming a senior is a physical and emotional adjustment in and of itself. I’ll eventually decorate my walls, I’m sure of it. And I’ll eventually put the pieces of my future together, too.