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The Dartmouth
April 15, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Homecoming Impressions

Considering the span of time (three weeks) that has progressed since Dartmouth Night and Homecoming, perhaps it is rather anachronous to speak of the experience. Being that it is three whole weeks later (anything longer than a single day being an eternity in the limbo we call college), I will be hard-pressed to relate it with entire accuracy. However, I attempt to do so in the hopes that you will understand and empathize with the visceral responses that the sweep and bonfire induced in me.

Was the Homecoming Parade through campus so much a parade as a frantic and futile attempt to prevent oneself from being trampled by those behind you? I think not. We all know how very lucky we were that we were all completely and undeniably sober at that time. (Thank God for abstinence.) Oddly enough, I can testify to observing several of my fellow '03s slamming into certain large objects. This can unquestionably be attributed to the darkness and the inexplicable nature of where those objects were located. Why trees, cars, and street signs were not moved to more convenient areas is beyond my comprehension. Of course, this is only because I was not made instantaneously immortal on that night, as other people obviously were. Instead of falling to the pavement in a flurry of blood, the immortal simply went onwards, perhaps with the merest shake of a head, leaving a stop sign to complete its lonely shuddering.

When the mob -- I mean, the Parade, reached the Green, it chose to congregate before the fire and chant "Light that s--t!" rather than join the alums who were gathered in front of Dartmouth Hall. The alums were entranced by the many people lined up before the hall, who, although they appeared to be communicating something, were probably doing so telepathically, seeing as I could hear nothing from where I was cowering -- I mean, standing.

There were sporadic moments of silence when some of the newest members of the Dartmouth community took to waving lighters hypnotically above the crowd. I have to admit, there was a certain surreal beauty to it, and to the hush that fell over us as the flames crept up the structure (not that I could see it, being only 5'2"). And then the running. The running? No. The pushing, the shoving, the heretofore repressed rage bubbling forth, brought on by the sight of the roaring bonfire. As the primal mass circled around the crackling heat, it rejoiced as others must have done when offering up sacrifices to the fire gods, panicking only when those upperclassmen on the perimeter chose to take upon themselves the responsibility of encouraging the mass to run "closer" (or into?) the bonfire. (I'm getting the bandages taken off my second degree burns tomorrow!)

It was only when, through some inexplicable freak of nature, the fire began to burn closer and closer to one direction, that we were compelled to flee with shrieks of pain and fear ("The fire's hot?!"). However, there is reason to believe that the freakish movement of the fire may have been the work of upperclassmen plotting to destroy the incoming class and thereby achieve a larger and better pool of housing. It was only then did, as they say, my life flash before my eyes. It was hardly even that, it was more of a feeling that even if it meant the excruciating death of all those around me, I was going to prevail. I was going to survive. Well, needless to say, I'm still here.

So what do I think of Homecoming? Isn't it obvious?

Or is it?

Can words ever express the ecstasy that I experienced that Friday? How often does one get to run with a pack of howling and potentially dangerous peers? When can you ever deliberately jab someone in the ribs just because he's trying to get ahead of you? How awesome is it to stop in the midst of a scurrying frenzy and see a single entity comprised of hundreds? To bask, half-clothed, in the light and heat of a blazing bonfire while outsiders look on in awe and the New Hampshire night threatens to intrude?

I ran back to my room that night, free because of the catharsis I had undergone, euphoric because I too had completed the rite of passage that generations before had. I'm hope the night was just as fulfilling for all the other '03s all of whom, like me, spent the rest of it pursuing non-alcoholic interests and keeping several thousand yards away from all manifestations of the Greek system.

Dartmouth tradition ROCKS!