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from me to you by Mel N. '24

burn it all down

Sometimes, you need to let things go up in flames.

. . .

I have struggled with writing blogposts in the past few months. It’s not for a lack of things to write about—there’s always something going on in my life, but that’s the problem. I feel like I’m on a rollercoaster, or some other janky, slightly dangerous ride01 like the ones in the courtyard during REX at East Campus and things are flying past at a breakneck speed. I’m trying to grab onto moments and memories as they pass, trying to shape them into something solid, but they keep slipping through my fingers like wisps of smoke.

Every week, I feel like I’m a different person. Every week, something fundamentally changes in me. I look back at who I was a month ago and it takes me some time to recognize them.

That disparity, I think, is what’s stopping me from writing posts that I’m satisfied with. Something cool happens, and I want to talk about it on the blogs, but when I actually sit down to write it, I find that I’m trying to channel a me who’s not really me anymore. It’s like I’m putting on a persona. Every word sounds fake. Or maybe I should stop chasing perfection.

I wanted to talk about moving in, finally meeting Daniel in person, all the things that happened during REX, my room on Florey (5E), bringing my cat to college, cleaning out an extremely disgusting mini-fridge, starting my classes, cooking nights with friends, all the people I’ve met on hall, learning how to skate down in the tunnels…

And I will, eventually. Hopefully. But for now, I’m going to tell you about fire.

. . .

East Campus has an interesting relationship with fire, though we rarely have fire alarms02 the 2024s have a spreadsheet keeping track of how many fire alarms each dorm has has since 2021. to our knowledge, macgregor is currently in the lead with a whopping 13. go macgregor . I know a lot of people who do fire-spinning. Perhaps most notably, our logo is the Burning Man, which, as you can expect, is a man on fire. It’s been on shirts and stickers and a variety of other things for god knows how long—someone more well-versed in EC history could probably tell you where it originated from. I unfortunately missed out on a lot of rush merch, but I’ve got laptop stickers and a pin on my backpack.

They were giving out free EC lighters, too. I got one in pink, with EAST CAMPUS etched on the side. I’m really bad at lighting it because the gears hurt my thumb, but I like the aesthetic.

And of course, there’s always the thing about how being at MIT is like drinking from a firehose.

. . .

This semester has been filled with a lot of high highs and low lows. I’m infinitely glad we’re in person, like, actually in person, but it’s been confusing and overwhelming learning how to navigate campus while simultaneously trying to balance sleep, nutrition, social life, schoolwork, extracurriculars, careers…

At one of my lowest points, I decided to write a letter.

In high school, I collected stationery—cute journals, sticky notes, fountain pens, washi tape, patterned envelopes, whatever you could think of. I also had a wax seal set with a honeybee stamp, gold pellets, and a melting spoon. I didn’t get the opportunity to use it very much. I made one half-hearted attempt to become penpals with someone, but it fell through because our letters kept getting lost in the mail. It turns out that wax seals are a hassle to send through USPS.

I’d brought all my stationery to college, where it was slowly accumulating dust in one of my drawers since I don’t take physical notes anymore. That night, I suddenly remembered it existed.

So I took my nicest writing paper and grabbed my favorite pen and poured out all of my terrible, terrible thoughts and feelings. I wrote down everything I was afraid to say and afraid to think. I didn’t let myself read anything I had written—I just needed it all to be somewhere other than my brain.

I folded it up, carefully. I slid it into an envelope. I melted two wax pellets and pooled them onto the paper. I placed my stamp over it lightly and let it cool before I took it off.

It looked fancy enough to be a wedding invitation, which felt ironic, considering the contents.

There was a space on the envelope for me to write an address. I stared at it. And then I wrote this.



The YOU here is undefined. YOU could be me. YOU could be someone else. YOU could be no one. It just felt important for me to address it to YOU.

. . .

The thing I love about Florey is that when you ask your hallmates if they want to burn something, you’ll get an enthusiastic yes before you even finish your sentence.

That’s how I ended up standing outside by the courtyard grills, watching my letter to YOU burn until nothing was left.

burning letter

It felt good.

People more creative and eloquent than me have written thousands of poems and essays about the destructive yet healing nature of fire. Plants sprouting after a forest fire. Volcanic matter breaking down into fertile soil. A phoenix rising from the ashes. Rebirth, renewal. All things must end so new things can begin.

My life is changing every day. Some days it feels like an unpredictable wildfire. Other days, when the flames have subsided and the rain starts to fall, I look down and see hints of green beneath my feet.

  1. like the ones in the courtyard during REX at East Campus back to text
  2. the 2024s have a spreadsheet keeping track of how many fire alarms each dorm has has since 2021. to our knowledge, macgregor is currently in the lead with a whopping 13. go macgregor back to text