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Posts filed under 'writing'

  • The Curse of Memory.

    My first year in college, I was best friends with someone whose entire existence has since been reduced to a single anecdote about spoons.

    This isn't to say that I never think of him in any other context, nor that he didn't have any other effect on me. However, the only reason I ever have to bring him up to other people is to mention the following: I knew a guy who decided to steal a spoon from the cafeteria every time he went for a meal, to the point that they no longer had enough to make it through the day without constant washing. Meanwhile, he had an entire desk drawer full of spoons that he brought with him when he moved out of the dorms.

    It's not a particularly interesting anecdote, and I can't recall a single time someone has requested a follow-up. "Oh, that's interesting; why did he do it? How many did he accumulate in the end? He sounds like an interesting guy; tell me more about him…" When I'm reminded of it, I could probably chuckle quietly and reminisce to myself rather than inflict the non-story on another person, but that never happens. I can't say why, precisely, but I have some theories.

    When I arrived in my dorm, the college hadn't opened "officially" yet. Due to the nature of the residence community—we were two floors within a four-building, twenty-floor complex dedicated to people from overseas or who had an interest in international "stuff", for lack of a better word—we were allowed to move in early. For the students who chose to take this option, it was an unparalleled opportunity to explore the college in that golden moment of perfect anticipation, where everything is open and available but not ruined by the pressing crowd.

    The beginning of the semester is defined by people exploring themselves, trying to start anew. This is doubly true for the beginning of the academic year, when the light and warmth of the summer are still making their presence felt, and the clarity provided by three months' vacation meets the promise of all new courses untainted by the anxieties of years past. While the beginning of the spring term is defined by resolutions to do better—the gyms and dining halls are full-up with students trying to make up for past failures, by eating right, working out, waking up early, and so forth—the end of summer is an explosion on all fronts. Freshman are learning what it means to define oneself in the vacuum created by the absence of authority; sophomores and juniors are seeing the world with the veneer of experience (and taking advantage of freshman naïveté), making up for missed opportunities by exploring those places that went ignored in earlier years; and seniors break in the old favorites for the first time of a new year. The end of August is the true spring in a college town: no venue goes unvisited, no random adventure goes untaken, no resource or club goes unconsidered.

    Moving in early allowed us to get a jump on the lines. In the first days before move-in, the international students (real and fake), gained the jaded veneer that only occurs during mass transitions. "Student rate football tickets? Yeah, me and a bunch of the guys bought a block of ten consecutive seats a while back" (yesterday afternoon). "

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