Joe Kind: A Guy

by Joe Kind | 1/14/16 9:25pm

This past weekend was the first time in my four years here that I ate more of my meals in town than in FoCo. For people who know me well, this is a big deal! Until this fall I used a good 17 or 18 of my 20 weekly mealswipes in FoCo. Many of my friends even call me “FoCo Joe,” though that nickname was actually conceived as the title of my long-standing column on Dartbeat, the online blog companion to the print version of The Dartmouth. Humor me while I self-cross-promote, and use fake words while I’m at it — FoCo Joe chronicles my creative endeavors as a wannabe dessert chef in Dartmouth’s most family-friendly cafeteria. Indeed, FoCo’s vast collections of eats and drinks ought to satisfy everyone, in my humble opinion. Meals are often my favorite parts of my days here: if not for the food, then for the company. Not that I am opposed to any quality solo meals upstairs, or even in the forbidden dark side. I am just advocating strongly for spending quality time leisurely with friends over a meal or a coffee.

So in some ways my first full weekend back on campus was not too different from my usual time spent with friends — just that the locations of my social activities changed. These days my social interactions are pretty one-dimensional, yet I have a feeling that I will continue to leisurely drift away from FoCo as the term drags on. Not because I have an issue with FoCo — trust me, I am more than content there. It might be that I will allow myself to say yes more often to my friends’ requests. It might also be a sign of my impending ascension into the real world. Cafeterias are not conveniently located in the real world, to my knowledge — let alone located anywhere, because I don’t think they exist in their truest form.

Maybe that will be my job for next year — founding a startup that facilitates a new chain of cafeterias located in the heart of city and centers all over the continental United States. Better than food courts, I tell you!

Call it a preparation for an afterlife of sorts. FoCo is comfortable, but I wonder if there might be such a thing as too much instant gratification.

I have no need to eat beyond the options offered on campus. And I am sure most of these readers (assuming it is plural) are ready for me to move on from this subject. But it really is remarkable that only now have I begun to truly challenge the boundaries created by my on-campus meal plan. Self-imposed structure, yes. But still — and this is the final comment I’ll make on the matter: as irrational as it is, the downtime with friends over burgers or beers (or both) feels so necessary.

Over the course of the six-week break, my close friend’s D-Plan changed. She can be spontaneous, my friend, but this left me stunned.

I initially could not comprehend why. As hard as it is for me to resign myself to her absence, it is not my place to understand but simply to support. It will hurt to not have her around to complain about things, like I tend to do in my spare time. I now have half the amount of time that I expected to have left with her here in Hanover. Yet one more reason to look forward to the spring. I worry a bit that I will watch what she does through social media with a furrowed brow and a sense of exclusion from the party, as most of America felt while watching the Golden Globes this past weekend. But history suggests that I will be promptly filled in once we reunite. I have nothing to worry about. It’s not like there will be many happenings that she will be missing this term, based on prior winters...

Not to say that there is nothing I am looking forward to in the near future. Thus far I am excited to find myself challenged by my classes and my professors. My workload feels especially steep, with two hard courses for my major and a third for a distributive requirement ­— a reality that is somewhat difficult to accept knowing how many of my friends will be done with classes in eight weeks. Alas. In even less time I will conclude the saga that is my collegiate swimming career, for better or for worse. And then there’s always the prospect of coming one step closer to a job offer, which has proven rather elusive, as the Career for Professional Development’s newly personalized email subject lines remind me. Let’s just hope my last three years have sufficiently prepared me for my last winter here. Worst case scenario, I wither away over at Molly’s or Salt Hill. Hopefully friends will save me.