Skip to content ↓
amber avatar

packing for the road by Amber V. '24

looking back on nights that last forever

A few thoughts from this week–

The rapid onset of graduation seems to be hitting this week. Last night my friends and I wandered from B1 to Skullhouse, for a hospital-themed birthday party complete with bags of fake blood and medicine bottles on string lights. I chatted with a friend who urops at my lab about our research over gluten-free cake in the basement. I went to get water and two people were switching shirts in front of the sink. I’m going to miss nights like these.

Then we trekked to Xi, a gender-inclusive fraternity with strong east side vibes. I came in, took off my coat, and was immediately challenged to an arm wrestle. But before my would-be opponent and I could find a suitable table, someone else called me to help wrestle for fake money. I came to help and managed to wrangle the money away. Then a bunch of people around a poker table saw my handful of plastic Ben Franklins and invited me to buy in.

I caught up with a few people, and climbed to a couch suspended from the ceiling, before the party ended and we had to walk home.

I’ll be ready to say goodbye, but not this week. Not yet.

picture of some buildings and a highway

I went running today, bleary-eyed from staying up til four am. I’m so thankful that I’ve touched so many spaces at MIT, and that those spaces hold room for me to be and to grow.

I’ve been thinking about how it’s okay to be in different spaces, especially dorms, at MIT. There is a narrative, I think, of fitting in to one dorm community completely, that you can find a living group of all your people once you get to MIT. I’ve seen how this is true for some. But for me, the people that reflect different parts of me are actually spread throughout campus, and there’s no way I could have met all of them in just one living community. Some of the people I vibe with deeply wouldn’t live at EC, and others I would have only found at EC — and the same is true of B1.

When I moved from EC to BC, I kept circling around the question, would I have chosen this if not for EC renovations? Would that choice have been easier if renovations didn’t force it on me? In the end I’ll never know. I chose EC my sophomore year, and I am glad I did; my MIT experience would have been less colorful without it. I am so glad I chose B1 as well; I’ve met some wonderful friends here, and found a community I cherish. I choose B1 now every day that I hang out in the 41, scroll through the chat, and rally for floor parties on weekends.

At one point, I regretted not being able to be someone who lived 4 years on one hall, or even in one dorm. But that’s okay. No one in my year could have spent 4 years on B1, or any floor or hall of BC or EC. I would have liked to live some traditions four times — but I lived them two or three times, I felt the cyclical nature, the traditions as new to me as the fact of changing seasons. I got a taste of them, and that’s enough for now.

I’ll taste it again at alum events. I’ve crossed to the other side of east side culture — from wide-eyed freshman looking in, to cruft wistfully looking back — and in some ways it feels like a dream again, one that cannot be truly captured, that was never real, or only was a long time in the past.

I wonder if, in time, all of MIT will feel that way to me. The dream of a time when nobody slept, and every moment in good company had a certain glow.

My time here won’t end abruptly. It will go slowly, with a whisper; ever since East Campus closed I have felt it begin to erode. Leaving B1 at the end of spring will be another hit. But some pieces will remain for a long time. I’ll be taking classes here next year; I’ll feel the ache of long hours at psets and in front of machines, the joy of working with a good team.

I see alums everywhere — at AfroShake, at Skullhouse last night, at the East Side Festival. At events, generally. So I will be able to return, but in the way that I return to Tucson: as a traveller stopping by, seeing the places that left their mark on me, where stories pile up and collapse and unfold. I see stories rise in alums’ eyes when they re-enter the halls of EC. I was here. This was mine once.