TTLG: The Last Glance
Former Mirror editor Caris White ’23 ends her college career with a final reflection.
This article is featured in the 2023 Commencement & Reunions special issue.
Funnily enough, it wasn’t until I became the editor of Mirror that I actually found out what TTLG stands for. It means “through the looking glass.” And as it turns out, a “looking glass” is just another word for a mirror. What does it mean to look at Dartmouth, through the mirror? Who do I see?
In some ways, I can map my time here onto my reflection. I look different. My smile is just a little bit crooked from the time I broke my jaw playing club soccer. My hair has gone from blonde to brown after four years without California sunshine. I dress differently — better, I hope. I have new rings on my fingers, including one with our seal and the year 2023 on it.
But all of the most important parts of my time here don’t show up in my physical reflection. When I think about reflecting on my Dartmouth experience, the image I see in the mirror is only a fraction of it. In fact, when I think about my reflection, I think about articles like this. I’m not sure how many reflections I’ve written for the Mirror at this point — almost too many to count. I’ve written at times when I resented Dartmouth. At times when I was blissfully in love with it. At times when I grieved its failings. At times when all I could do was think about how badly I wished I could be here. And now, at my journey’s bittersweet end.
Time on this campus never seems to move linearly. Even now, I can still feel the intensity of freshman fall. I remember not knowing how to unlock my dorm room because it had a fire door with a secondary lock. It took me at least an hour, sweating in the unairconditioned hallway of first-floor Mid Fay, before one of my floormates finally showed me how to get in.
I remember driving through campus my sophomore fall, feeling a thousand miles away from the life I’d had just months prior. As I sat behind the glass windshield, I stared longingly at the Green I wasn’t welcome on, sparsely populated by masked newcomers who I wouldn’t get the chance to meet for many months.
I remember laying in my off-campus apartment during sophomore spring, sweating off the beginning of summer. Through my open window, I could hear the careless conversations of seniors walking up West Wheelock after late-night river dips. At the time, my years at Dartmouth seemed endless. There was still so much to look forward to — sophomore summer was just around the corner, and it felt like campus life had just been awoken from its COVID-induced hibernation.
Now, I’m the senior walking up West Wheelock after my daily dip in the river.
A few weeks ago, I found myself walking up that hill on the Friday night of Green Key weekend, after a later-than-usual daily dip. It was unusually foggy, and I had been tempted to do a solo attempt at the Ledyard Challenge, but in the name of safety I decided against it. Also, it would be nice to make it to graduation without a second stint on the Safety and Security pontoon boat.
I wonder if anyone is eavesdropping on my late-night conversations up West Wheelock. Probably not, because I prefer a solo late-night dip. Alone with my thoughts, on foot (not zooming around on my bike), I feel like I finally have the chance to relish in my diminishing number of nights on this campus. The number of times I’ll walk up that ever-tiring hill is probably shockingly small. But as it is with most lasts, I’m not sure I’ll even notice when I finally pass it.
There are the big ones, like the last day of classes, last formal, last assignment turned in and (of course) graduation itself. But the little ones often pass without notice. Have I made my last Foco waffle? Played my last game of pong? (Definitely not). Had the last passing conversation with a friend? Ordered my last Molly’s marg? Put on my frat shoes for the last time?
If you’ve read my other reflections, you may know that I have a special fondness for my current frat shoes. Almost as if they’d been waiting for it, the week after I wrote that article, they finally got a hole. It’s just a little one — and not in the sole — but it was a bittersweet reminder that the end was near. Now, as I write my final article with less than two weeks until graduation, it feels like the end has really come.
Throughout my time here, I have been in love, heartbroken, joyful, dejected, chosen and understood. I have been a leader and I have been led, by peers and elders alike. Dartmouth gave me so many people to look up to, and now they are mostly gone, graduated. Soon, I will be too. So as I type this from inside the quiet walls of 1902, I can’t help but think about the people who encouraged me to write, who told me I was good enough, who gave me my first byline and showed me the path by walking it themselves.
My girlfriend gave me a journal for my birthday a few weeks ago, and it’s funny that such a little leather-bound book could mark the end of an era. Sharing my thoughts with all of you has been a part of Dartmouth that I didn’t know I needed until I had it. I didn’t realize how much I’d miss writing for the Mirror until now, at last, it’s time to let it go. After this article, the rest of my thoughts will go into my little leather book. But what’s written here will stay. Snippets of conversations that have been captured, memories preserved in digital amber.
As I peer through the looking glass one more time, I only see me. In the mirror, I see a girl who is a little taller, a little braver and a little smarter for her time here. In all of my words and thoughts and stories, I hope you can see her. And just maybe, I hope you see a little bit of yourself too.
Caris White is a former Mirror editor of The Dartmouth and a member of the Class of 2023.