‘The View From South Campus’ Goes North

Four-and-a-half months ago, I poured myself a glass of red wine, plunked down in front of my computer and proceeded to write a free-wheeling, allusion-happy introduction to TSL’s newest member of the Life & Style family: the ostensible ‘Senior Life’ column.

I was, at that time, a newly-minted senior, three years older (give or take a week or two) than I had been at the advent of my TSL career. As a first-year, I’d poured myself a Red Bull, splayed out on the floor of the Blaisdell 2 common room and proceeded to write a free-wheeling, allusion-happy piece focusing on the dermatological implications of Orientation Adventure for what would eventually come to be known as “The View from South Campus.”

Four-and-a-half months ago, I was confident in the symbolic weight of my vision, if not the manner of its execution. That is to say, I didn’t know what in tarnation I was going to say, ultimately, in this column, but I sure knew that writing it would be a damn nice way of bookending my pseudo-journalistic college career. If nothing else, the symmetry was sure to resonate with my readers.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), I never got the chance to find out just how little this readership may care about the abstract geometries of the average TSL columnist’s oeuvre, because five days after that first installment went to print, I packed up my stuff and got out the heck out of Dodge.  

I went home.

Tears were shed; lessons were learned; I read Infinite Jest (spoiler alert: it’s a trip) and put together a 2,194-piece Lego set (spoiler alert: it’s a movie theater). I watched so much Law and Order: SVU that the school really ought to award me some credit for it. 

Most vitally, though, I abided in absence; I was not-here in a way that was fundamentally deeper—different, more existential—than I was not-here when I was abroad, and I allowed myself to sink into it, to unpack it and to let it unpack me. 

And now I’m back to tear it up. Is it weird to be here? Sans doute. Like Buster Baxter, that famed rabbit of Arthurian legend, I went away and I came back only to find things earthshakingly different—Sig Tau became a gender-neutral social club (which I think is like the Buena Vista Social Club, but even more egalitarian), the folks at ITS did some kind of whacked-out printer quota inflation math—and monumentally the same.

It’s like I never left, and I feel completely out-of-sync with everything.  

Which brings me to my next bold statement: I’ve been stripped of my traditional four-year-student status, given the dubious honor of a late graduation date, and relegated to the liminal space between the classes of 2015 and 2016, but I’ve never felt more like a senior (or, by extension, more qualified to be writing a ‘Senior Life’ column) than I do now.

Three thousand miles removed from this mad, mad, mad, mad consortium, I had a lot of time to reflect upon my experiences here, to turn over the facts and the feelings and to start to get to the bottom of some of them. Having been away, I’m more appreciative of the benefits this place awards us than ever before, and more critical of its shortcomings, to boot.

To sum it up, I’ve got perspective now, and I think that’s something I lacked before. When you’re here, it’s so easy to get caught up in the minutiae of everyday—and then, before you know it, it’s over, and you find you’ve missed the forest for the Yik Yaks and the problem sets and the hookups and the perennial question of who got transported last night. 

It’s a new year: 2015, the year we went back to the future. Some of us will graduate in May; some of us will not. But all of us have, I think, an obligation to ourselves to look at our lives here and try to make some sort of sense of them. And it’s never too early, or too late, to begin making a real effort to do that, because, if we in any way are the product of our experiences, then every year is a capstone year, every moment a capstone moment.

So, unlike my old View From South Campus, which was largely directed at my fellow fledgling first-years and interested rubberneckers, this column is really for everyone, which is why I’m so excited about it. 

So keep reading, kids. I can’t promise you anything approaching THE definitive portrayal of THE senior experience (spoiler alert: no such animal) or even MY senior experience qua EXPERIENCE—heck, we’ll be lucky if it’s coherent, let alone cohesive. 

But, I can promise to give you some insight into my own processes of reflection and self-discovery, in the hopes that something in there makes some kind of sense to you and yours, no matter your station in college life. That, and some key pieces of Lego wisdom (the first of which is thematically relevant almost the point of being pat, but also unequivocally true: Don’t lose sight of the movie theater for the bricks!).

The rest is yet unknown.

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