Time Out by Jess K. '10
I attempt to top Emo Walt Whitman, even though I'm only taking a brief reprieve from MIT. I think I fail.
(So honestly, I wrote this emotional post about my first year at MIT on the plane home, and then got home and found out Sam had written his own totally better and more emotional post about his four years at MIT, and posted it while I was on the plane, so basically Sam is a big cheater for 1) being a senior and having more emotional things to say and 2) posting it when I had no wireless. Not cool, Sam. Actually I went out for coffee when I got home so I might have been able to post mine first, but then I would have just looked like a dumb freshman who wished her memories were as cool and meaningful as Sam’s. Maybe it’s better this way. Or maybe, Sam is just a big cheater.)
I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a long time, mostly over finals, when I dared to dream about what I’d do once those nine hours of exams finally concluded. It felt so far away that reaching this point seemed like it would coincide with the installation of ski lifts in hell, or the release of a successful Blink 182 side project (Angels and Airwaves?? SERIOUSLY??). It felt like if I ever did get to finish that last biology problem I’d cry like Ashley Ferl on American Idol. Better yet, I thought if I could make it through, I’d know exactly what I’d want to say to sum up this year.
All I’ve got is: my freshman year at MIT is over.
Let’s take that apart, shall we? The phrase “My freshman year at MIT is over” is a bland, unemotional statement. The phrase “My freshman year at MIT is over” says nothing about the morning I got up at 5 to take the Fung Wah bus to Coney Island, or the all-nighter I pulled finishing a problem set I could have easily done in two hours because I was learning about the people I was working with (i.e. Fred Baba, who punches girls in the face). The phrase “My freshman year at MIT is over” doesn’t tell you about the one night I stood on tiptoes in my friend’s bathroom, cutting somebody else’s hair for the first time, watching his dark curls fall onto white tiles and nervously thinking it’d probably be better if we’d just burned it off.
Those seven words mean nothing about those last seven days when I worked from 9 AM to past midnight, convinced I’d never be prepared for three straight days of final exams; they don’t evoke memories of trudging sleepily through pouring rain to the Z center for dance practice, or feelings of panic and terror skiing down a 4,000 foot New Hampshire mountain, with friends who became family. They leave out the part about my skin tingling as I screamed “US KIDS KNOW!” at the Arcade Fire, one of my favorite bands that never came to my hometown, but just happened to be in Boston during one of my most work-heavy weeks.
“My freshman year at MIT is over” tells you nothing about where I came from or who I became here. It omits how I met some of my closest friends, my family away from my family, over the admissions blogs before I even knew I would be here, or the headache I got from worrying over getting into EMT class. It bypasses the hanging out at frats or late-night fondue parties. It never even mentions how I completely forgot my class schedule on my last day. (Seriously, I was walking back to my dorm to grab a notebook when I realized I was missing one of my favorite classes. EVEN THOUGH I HAD BEEN ATTENDING THE SAME SCHEDULE ALL SEMESTER. I think I’m getting old.)
Those words only tell you that I am an MIT student, which I wrote in my first entry here, even though I wasn’t really yet. It doesn’t tell you whether I got As or if i even passed my classes; it only implies that I’ve survived them. I’ve survived taking trips to New York, pulling all-nighters, cutting hair.
Yet, leaving the place that’s become my home and hugging goodbyes to the people that have become my family, I recognize that there is no “only saying” that I am an MIT student. I’ve never worked so hard, loved so many people so deeply, or written so many sappy posts about my freshman year that I’ll eventually regret as a jaded senior. (Or more likely, tomorrow morning when I’ve gotten some sleep.) And though I thought at multiple points I’d trip up and expose that I didn’t really belong here, I completed a year.
This is it. My freshman year at MIT is over. I am an EMT, a driver of ambulances, a MedLink, a resident of Burton Conner. I am a writer of sketch comedy, a Course 5 chemist preregistered for classes that I am terrified about but excited to be taking, a student that will never need to take another GIR. I call two places home and I have many different people to call when I get off airplanes (airplanes that somehow always seem to be infested with wailing children; why is that?). I am almost, kind-of sort-of, a sophomore.
But I still have no idea what I’m doing. Who does?