Disgraceful: Forever Young
Four years ago, it is my freshman summer, and I am running down Mt. Moosilauke, alone, in the dark, 90 percent sure that I am about to die. I am kicking myself for staying an extra hour at the campsite up the mountain with my trail crew members, knowing I needed to get down to the Lodge before sunset. My headlamp begins to flicker. I’m probably running from a moose, or a bear or a psycho-killer AT hiker, right? Wrong. I am running from a fictional, immortal mad-scientist called Doc Benton. Many of you may remember the story of Doc Benton from Trips — the scientist from the 1800s who threw the girl off the headwall in the search for immortality? The story wasn’t very scary surrounded by 150 sweaty teens, but alone in the woods, I am straight losing it. Eventually I make it down (only falling once) and run into the Lodge, sweaty and out of breath feeling like I just outran death; everyone else is playing cards and looks at me like I’m crazy. Honestly, I probably am.
What is so crazy about my fear of Benton is that it’s not like I believe in ghosts or serial killers or aliens (because for me, there is truthfully enough evidence of all three). What I am afraid of is an immortal man, someone who has found a way to live forever. Immortality has always fascinated me — why go through the trouble of being a mad-scientist just to find immortality? Why not something cooler, like flying or teleportation or always knowing what the Collis soup is? This past year has been enough evidence to me that living forever just sounds exhausting.
Lately I have been thinking a lot about stopping time, it being my senior spring and all. It feels surreal how fast the past four years have flown by. I don’t want to leave this place and these people, I don’t want to start all over again and I don’t want to have adult problems. I lay in bed on Sunday nights counting the weeks left on my fingers. I find myself taking screenshots of texts from my housemates for fear of forgetting the joke. Walking across the Green makes me tear up.
A couple of weeks ago in class a professor had us go around and say what age we would like to stay for the rest of our lives. I said 25 since I could finally rent a car but would be in peak physical condition (lol). The class was filled with underclassmen and as we went around, many of them said 20 or 21. I thought back to turning 20, before I had lived on my own, traveled alone, or even learned how to bake bread. Who would I be without having cried my way through algorithms or played Masters over 15X? I would never want to be trapped at that age, never want to live without those recent experiences.
I know this sounds naive, the 22-year-old feeling so grown-up and full of wisdom, but I feel I must speak out against the idea of “freezing time.” So many people have told me to stay here forever. Nearly every adult tells me that college was “the best four years of their lives,” to which I reply, “these sure as hell better not be the best four years of my life.” I plan to live until at least 90, are you seriously telling me it’s all downhill for the next 70 years?
This past weekend, I watched as ’21s roamed campus for Dimensions. Walking next to their new best buds, thinking about all the extracurriculars they are going to join freshman fall and promptly drop freshman winter, asking, “Which frat was Animal House about again?” One of them told me he was born in 2000, and I did a spit take. All of them were so bright-eyed it made me want to trip one of them. It made me nostalgic. I loved freshman year, but I would never want to do it again. With so much possibility came so much uncertainty, with all the new friends came a striking lack of confidants, with all the blissful ignorance came, well, ignorance. Every term here has brought its pros and its cons. I wouldn’t erase any of them, but I also wouldn’t want to relive any one for all eternity.
I guess what I’m trying to say is to be careful of looking back at Dartmouth with rose-colored glasses, because it makes the future that much scarier. Not wanting to live in the past makes me all the more confident that the future won’t be so bad. I’ve gotten the most out of this place, and I will eventually have to hand it off to the ’21s. Yes, I will get older, but we all need to grow up eventually. I’m not Doc Benton, and I can’t stay 22 forever. Or, as I like to think of it: 18 years and 15 terms old.