“I thought you were a freshman,” a fellow castmate (and actual first-year) confessed over dinner. “You were walking into Village C West, after all.”
So much for my theory that four years of college-induced intellectual growth and social sophistication had effected any sort of obvious differentiation between myself and the 1,600 students who arrived on campus last August. Geographical origins get me every time.
She wasn’t the only one to explode my maturation theory to trifling bits and leave it to be trampled on by the next starry-eyed recent arrival to cross my path. Over 100 credit hours, four study-abroad trips, two majors, four phone numbers, five roommates, 11 theatrical productions, 25 Voice articles, 60 editorial pages and about 100,000 tuition dollars later, I am still being mistaken for the person who hauled her six suitcases up the Village C stairs in a huff (I couldn’t wait for the friendly Move-In helpers?I had a college career to begin) on a sweltering late August day in 1997. I had wanted to briefly survey the surroundings from Room 1060 and then be one of the first in line for a coveted, and highly flattering, ID card. But maybe that’s the point.
By way of explanation, I feel that it is incumbent upon me to mention to the three people who don’t know me but will venture to read at least 200 words I’ve written, that I have a good reason to walk into a first-year residence hall?I live there. As one of the intrepid corps of community-building, social-coordinating, policy-enforcing, peer-counseling resident assistants, I’ve nearly completed a year-long tour of duty which has caused me to bunker down amidst the unforgiving blasts of pile-drivers and tractors in the erstwhile Lot 3. It wasn’t much quieter indoors, either.
But that’s not really the point. Rather, the first-year factor in my life has prompted me to vicariously revisit the first few days, months and even year I spent here. And being re-introduced to Georgetown through the refracting lens of 30 students’ nine-month romance (which at times dipped into a fantastically turbulent love-hate relationship) with the University has caused me to reflect on how I got here. I’m reasonably sure it wasn’t my stellar expository essay-writing skills. I wrote a song.
Well, to be entirely accurate, I re-wrote a song?a song from the musical Pippin, to be exact. And worst of all, I thought it was damn clever. Two years later, I went on a little rampage and tried to eliminate all of the embarrassing prose of my past (I stopped just short of the Thanksgiving book I made in first-grade which featured some such creative constructions as, “The Native Americans and Pilgrem ate Turkays and Cranberys”). However, while attempting to obliterate all evidence of my torch-song tampering, I remembered that somewhere in the bowels of the admissions office there’s probably a copy on file just waiting to be dredged up to humiliate me. I don’t expect Andrew Lloyd Webber to be calling me up to replace his librettist anytime soon. Suffice it to say that I chalk my four years here up to a fortuitous freak accident.
Before I left for life on the Hilltop, a family friend rather prosaically pronounced her college experience to have been, “the best four years of her life,” and proceeded to ruminate freely on how she’d love to have the chance to be an undergraduate again, but would never, ever want to revisit high school. Having just marched across my high school football field?with my diploma firmly in hand and a cheesy, but genuine, grin on my face?while trying not to leave three-inch divots in the turf with my high-heeled silver sandals, I wasn’t sure that I was prepared to wholly agree with her.
On the other side of four years, however, I can better appreciate her rose-tinted evaluation of college. Conventional wisdom has it that college is supposed to change you in some fundamental but wholly intangible way and I think that, regardless of the multiple mistaken-identity incidents I’ve encountered, this platitude is generally applicable. A few weeks ago, a prospective student’s father stopped me on Copley lawn and asked, “From the vantage point of a senior?would you do it again?” I was gratified to be able to respond, “In a second.”
So, to bring all this to some sort of conclusion, I end with the beginning?in the true spirit of commencement. Because if what’s past is prologue, bring on the next act.