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2012 Winter Issue 7 (February 24, 2012)

Looking beyond the invisible boundary line

February 24, 2012
By Maddy Crowell
Every time I go out for a run, I never go past a certain point. I’ve run in every direction; out to both windmills, to St. Olaf, the Arboretum, the Northfield high school, down Division street, past Northfield suburbia’s gated communities, past old, new, tacky, and beautiful houses. Carleton’s campus is always my base point though, and though I can spin out my web of paths, these paths only reach a certain point before I turn to return back to my center, my comfort zone. On my last run, as the stale smell of the turkey farm lingered in the air, I started to think about the direction I was running: East. Then I began to wonder, what if I just kept running? I began to envision myself on a map, little Maddy the Runner, heading down I-94, to Wisconsin, to the Great Lakes, home to Chicago, past Chicago to Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maine, the salty Atlantic Ocean. It was hard to imagine at first that these places were really there, that other things were going on in the world outside of what was in front of me. What if I just kept going? What was stopping me from turning around once I reached the turkey farm? In the case of running, of course, physical stamina can only go so long. But why not stop from time to time, why not catch a ride, why not plan it out and stay in houses of acquaintances? Why not borrow a car? Why not save up my money and hop on the cheapest flight I can get? Carleton is my current present, and there is an invisible magnetic force that keeps me drawn in. I spent last summer at Georgetown, a bubble within a bubble. It took me a week to escape the Georgetown neighborhood. It took me another five weeks to familiarize myself with D.C.; meeting new people, connecting with friends, exploring unfamiliar neighborhoods, learning the language of the railway system, shopping and coffee-shop hopping. Entranced by the city, the possibilities of things to do there felt a bit endless. As the summer flew by, it suddenly hit me that I had one weekend left in the East coast, one weekend to have an East coast adventure. It wasn’t until I was aboard my shaky and crowded bus to New York, feeling nauseous from the heat that I realized, with regret, that I should have made this decision weeks ago. Suddenly, the endless skyline of New York crawled up from out of nowhere, just as dusk was encroaching, and it hit me: I am in New York City, and I have no idea how the next two days are about to go. It’s that idea, of completely submitting ourselves to the unknown, that seems to never occur to us in our current bubble. We are all glued to a center, let out on little leashes that for some reason always end up pulling us back.

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