Joe Kind: A Guy
This first week of the spring term featured discussions of spring break activities in all their predictable forms. Across campus, sun-kissed faces exchange tales of adventures and extravagances. What was less discussed though, were the moments in between: the tranquilities and the comforts of rest, at home or elsewhere.
People ask me how my break was, and I tell them it was nice. I didn’t do much, I say simply, but I enjoyed myself nonetheless. I travelled a bit, but some of my favorite moments of the break resulted from my staycation. Yes, my “staycation” in Hanover.
This was the first break of my Dartmouth career that I was away from home. Not because I did not want to be with my family and friends, but because I actually preferred the alternatives available to me on campus.
Why would I choose to stay in Hanover for what may be my last spring break? I can only say that warm weather was only part of my reasoning.
Why would I sacrifice my last chance to visit home before my graduation? My post-graduation plans are still up in the air, after all. Thus, the choice to go home really depended on what I wanted to do for my break. And what I wanted to do this break happened to be on campus.
I would form my days around my job and my nights around my job search. Any progress towards defogging my post-graduation plans would be a worthwhile spring break for me. Pepper in some nearby excursions and lots of Netflix, and I suddenly had myself a break that I truly looked forward to. Of course, I didn’t always fully enforce time for job hunting, but such is spring break. I can say that I made progress towards my next chapter.
I also met hundreds of fiddly high school juniors and their families over my spring break. I have led several admissions tours since my freshman spring, but never during the classic “college trip” season in my job as a tour guide. Because of the time of year and the lack of available guides over interim, I had groups of 30 to 40 families on any given hour-long tour. In our mild winter weather, gloved hands held notepads and cell phones, and bags were filled to the brim with pamphlets and anxieties. I was filmed as I was talking and walking backwards. I was asked all kinds of questions, including what it was like to be openly gay at Dartmouth — which I am not. That question made me shift my feet on the Robo lawn. I was asked about the kinds of test scores needed to get in to Dartmouth, including my own. That question, though, I have gotten before.
I was asked about my plans upon graduation more than once, both in front of the entire tour group and in one-on-one conversations after the conclusion of my tours. At the end of one particularly successful tour, one parent towards the back of the group came up to me with his business card and then walked away. The other parents and students smiled as I stood incredulously, absorbing what had happened before answering personal questions.
I did manage to escape Hanover twice in my 10 days of break. The first time I visited my close family friend at Boston University, coincidentally for the city’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade. The second time I visited friends at Duke University and Elon University, both in North Carolina. Three new sets of college tours at schools I had never visited. Lots of good and wholesome hanging out in stimulating environments.
“Maybe it’s just the weather, but the start of spring term leaves me feeling particularly refreshed,” I wrote in an early draft of this column. That was, of course, before it SNOWED two days ago. Starting the second week of spring — the first full week of April, better yet — with plummeting temperatures is less than ideal, as I think most would agree. But, unlike the previous terms of this year, the weather has yet to impact my present well-being. Most likely because it is still week two of the term, and the workloads are still relatively light.
No matter the weather, this final term obviously brings a lot of lasts. My friend and I joked about all the sentimental social media posts at the start of the first week. “Last first goodbye,” I captioned one of my first snapchats of the term, sent to my friend when we parted ways for our rooms. My optimistic self, however, chooses instead to focus on all of the firsts. I have not taken classes on campus during a spring term since my first year here. So much since has changed. What I know now about myself and my school is incomparable to what I thought I had figured out that first spring term, when the weather then was slushy and unfortunate through most of April, not just the month’s first full week. My comments on the weather are beginning to exhaust me, but I cannot help but employ one last comparison — this term is bound to be as unpredictable as the clouds, in all ways possible. I truly have no idea what to really expect. Hopefully, by the end of the term, my sun-kissed face will tell all kinds of adventurous and extravagant tales.