And it took a lot, or at least, a lot’s been building up to this (three years, in fact).
It started when I came back early in August to continue my summer research project. I lived in an off-campus house with friends, talked late at night on a porch about big ideas for senior year, and it didn’t hit me then. In the mornings, the early mornings, of the last week of August, I trolled the bike paths around Northfield for the $950 Jesse James horseshoe and realized I probably wouldn’t be here at this time next year, but it didn’t really hit me then either. I received an email about my comps and didn’t take it seriously. And then the school year started, and I moved into my house on campus with my friends, and reunited with people I hadn’t seen since the winter, since the fall, and we realized we were mostly staying put for this year. For this year. Didn’t occur to me then either. And we went to get our boxes from storage (I am somehow living exclusively with people from the West coast), and swore on our last round that we would never return to the basement filled with lovely custodians but also about eight species of dust. But I lost a box, and so returned three times, and am still sleeping without a comforter. So, didn’t really realize it then either.
I wrote the paragraph you see above during the first two weeks of my fall term. I found the box. But I kept thinking that at some point the ugly hammer of the reality of senior year would hit. Now it’s halfway through the winter term--halfway through my final year. And I’m still waiting. At, least, kind of.
I’m sitting now in the revamped, quite elegant new computer lab in the CMC with my friend Boo. She lives with me, but next year she’ll be working for a software company in Chicago. It wasn’t until I was talking to my roommate at probably the real zero dark thirty (i.e. it was 12:30 and we had the lights out) that we realized probably next year we should probably all stop applying for things all over the place and just move to Chicago. Because otherwise, the reality was that otherwise we wouldn’t live together anymore.
Much as I sometimes feel otherwise, I haven’t lived with Boo forever. I haven’t even always lived with her at Carleton (though her roommate has—four years and going strong!). I, in fact, used to have a whole other life before I came here, just as you, prospective student, might have a whole other life now. In case you’re new to reading this blog, I will introduce myself to you as I introduce myself often to the new significant others of my friends: my name is Rachel, and I’m the weird one. For the past three years, I’ve written down a lot of things about Carleton on this website. (And, frankly, a lot of things about myself). I was reminded of it today because I put blogging on my resume, and because one of my professors mentioned it—looking back over my posts, I’ve really started to realize the elusive “it”: my time at Carleton has been an amazing journey. And, it’s getting near the end.
Unless you’re my grandma, you’re probably reading this because it’s getting near the beginning for you. That is SO exciting. I will be back in the spring with more regular blogging, and I can’t wait to respond to your questions and provide you with many compelling reasons why you should begin, and begin here. But, in the meantime, after having scanned my old posts for the better part of half an hour, ostensibly under the guise of making sure potential future employers can see that I can spell, I can’t not want to finish part of the story that started my senior year of high school. And during a week of a lot of deadlines, being able to remember that, and remember that with you, whoever you are, helps me remind me that there’s a little longer before this chapter is over.
I’ve been looking at windows a lot lately. I can judge who’s home by looking at the dorms at certain angles, what the weather is by whether the ice is melting or not outside, what I should wear on any given day by adding two layers to whatever the joggers have on. But I also see, in the corner of my eye, the parts of Northfield past Carleton, and, through the shiny computer screen, the tassles on my hat, the shape of my scarf, me.
These times and ways of looking in will end soon, and I’ll be left with an experience that will always place me back on the outside. But, as I realized while talking to a friend last night, I won’t be on the other side entirely. I know now a little more of what I’m looking at. I can’t be a car that rushes by the freeway and wonders what all the lights in the library are doing on at 10:00 on a Saturday night, because I know. I can’t pass Exit 69 and not think "That’s where Carleton is. That’s the way home."
And that’s OK—in the great beyond, I am certain there are things to see and do and wonder about too. But in the time I have left to be inside, to really be fully a Carleton student, still, even in this land of windows, I’m going to do my best to be here. Really. And to start to wrap it up. Well.