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Train In Vain

June 2, 2013 at 9:54 pm

All right, I’m wimping out. I had (believe me) a list about 65% finished of the other 77 ways Carleton can relate to 101 Dalmations. But then I realized that while it would be really fun to post celestial pictures for Alameda (#33), talk about Saturday Sundaes for Jimmies (#45), discuss the Goodsell Observatory/Chester Arthur connection for Chester (#52), and midwinter ball for Polka (#91), everyone’s time might be better spent if I work on not failing my classes so that I can actually leave this place and spilling my heart out to you, dear reader, on why I’ll be sad to go.

I was talking two weeks ago to a friend who goes to school in North Carolina. She’s been on summer break for about two or three weeks now. “Congratulations on graduating!” she said when we finally connected.
“Um, nope. Just finished midterms.” We kept talking for a while then I remembered that she had work the next day.
“Look, this has been great, but I’m getting kind of tired and don’t you have to get up early tomorrow?” I asked.
“No, it’s Memorial Day!” she said.
“It is?” I said. We don’t get that off either.

So, in all this copious Carleton time, what exactly have people been up to, you may ask? I’ll say this: as much as my father wants to believe otherwise, no one (especially not seniors) is packing. Neither, sadly, as far as I can tell, is anyone watching the new season of Arrested Development. Our convocation schedule is over, the LTC book group reading Studs Terkel’s Working has finished, and the classes with high-schoolers are over.

To my knowledge, on this here Sunday night, people are, for the most part, studying. Classes end for us on Wednesday, finals start on Saturday, and given the number of bikes outside the library, it seems most students are buckling down with their books. Of course, a fair number were at the a capella concert I went to. I think my neighbor was practicing Tai Chi. And about half of my friends are playing pretty competitive trivia at a bar in town. So maybe it’s tough to say.

In the next week, I’m going to write four papers (the more I affirm this, the more it seems plausible, though I’m still not counting the total number of pages). I also, though, hope to hang out with my friends. A lot. I’m going to be eating free food at a lot of end-of-the-year celebrations, which should be great. And I hope to spend a lot of time in the arboretum. I’m going to take a professor to lunch and write an article about the program I work at with high schoolers. And I hope to do Tai Chi throughout the week, although in class on Tuesday, my group The Water Dragons will give their final presentation.

I hope also to sleep, which hasn’t been happening much. I don’t exactly know why, but I lie down and the finality of all of it starts to sink in. “Ah,” I think to myself. “This is the last time I can watch the school buses roll into downtown at midnight. We’re getting near the end of hearing people outside, the end of waiting to hear my other housemates turn of the water and close their doors. This may be the last time I listen to my roommate carry on an imaginary conversation in her sleep, the last time the passing cars hit the poster just so it looks like George Emerson might be a glowing zombie.”

And then I think of how I’ve thought this, though the details have differed, at the end of high school, the end of camp, the end of freshman year, the end of France. I’ve been finding new podcasts, which has been good, and I fashioned a bandana into a sleep mask (#CollegeTips) but then I ask myself how much I actually want to block all of this out. And then it’s three-thirty and I hear the train coming…

I’m not sure what the train carries—someone said it was produce but I have no idea if that’s true. I can see it from my window, and you can hear it almost everywhere on campus. During honors convocation on Friday, it rushed through, saying both “This all is fleeting!” and “Hurry, hurry, hurry!” So I guess maybe I also hope to figure out what the heck is on that train.

It’s going to be a good week—with all of these hopes, how could it not be? I’ll be writing, talking, running, asking, and eating delicious food. But, sorry Dad, I probably won’t be packing. Not yet.

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