This past weekend marked the halfway point in the semester, which my college celebrated with an extra two days off. I took advantage of the free time and organized a day escapade into Boston with some friends. We started off with the Museum of Fine Arts, which Around noon, we found our way to Greek and Mexican food. Gyro meat was delight after weeks of dry, overcooked, questionable looking beef.
The afternoon was ushered in with exploring the Boston Public Library. It has the cutest reading nooks in the map room. Our wandering then took us to Boston’s Little Italy, where we partook of cannolis and gelato in the presence of Paul Revere. The day was a perfect way to bond with friends while becoming familiar with the local big city.
Boston was great, but New York City is still better.
Maybe she’d shave half my head. I really had no way of knowing what would happen. There I was, sitting facing a mirror, decapitated by a black sheet. I had never had my hair professionally cut. Which sounds so posh, but it really only means that my mom is the only one who has set scissors to my locks since I entered this world. That is, of course, besides those few times I foolishly took things into my own hands.
I decided to pay a little extra for the shampoo and blowout, which I have no regrets about. After a week of being sick and straining my brain over questions like: “What is consciousness?” Having someone rub my scalp and rinse my hair in water was extremely soothing.
The next step was to try to convey my hair aspirations to my attentive stylist. As the lady snipped away, I tried to think positive thoughts. It seemed like a lot of hair was dropping to the floor around me. But after I endured twenty minutes of intense upward brushing and hot air blowing, I felt very girly and happy. I knew I’d have to get to know my new cut, but dang, I looked good.
I left Mastercuts that day with some more layers and a new hair product, ready to tackle the mound of homework waiting for me in my dorm.
I was basking in the glorious relief of a cool shower. I had checked “Gym time” off my to do list, and was mentally preparing for my evening of homework. And then I heard it. A strange, loud, whining sound emanating from the hallways. I sincerely hoped that was not what I thought it was. Slightly bewildered, I interrupted my shower and poked my head out. The obnoxious sound continued. Then my RA swung the bathroom door open and confirmed my fears; the fire alarm. In that moment I joined the percentage of girls who get caught in the shower when the fire drill happens.
Furiously repeating: “You got to be kidding me!” I strode back to my room and hastily considered my options: I could leave now in a towel, or don my dorky Dr. Who robe, or throw on a dress. I had to leave or I was going to get fined. I grabbed the dress. The said garb was a blue mini dress. Now it was a conservative mini dress, not something one might wear at a nightclub. But I’m sure I looked comical, dripping wet in uncommon wear for a Thursday evening on a college campus.
Luckily I had floor mates to gravitate towards, so I wasn’t just standing alone in this silly state. But this event was one of the more entertaining parts of my week. Eventually they let us back in the building and I finished my shower.
The quality of the Saturday was not the sum of its parts. I had several encouraging and fulfilling conversations over the course of the day. One of which, although perfectly civil and thoughtful, left me feeling spiritually a drift. I am reminded of a high school professor’s words concerning how trans-formative the first couple months of college are. Suddenly I am mixing with new ideas and more profound questions. The immediate statements of inquiry are not foreign to me; I’ve encountered them before. However, now the questions are heavier. All this to say, Saturday evening I found myself grappling with God. Yet, I had a Target trip ahead of me.
My roommate and I had planned to visit the mall, later in the evening to pick up some items from Target. Thirty minutes before the shuttle left, my roommate texted me that she wasn’t coming. I could have given up on the idea of restocking my granola bar stash. However, I really just felt like getting away from my homework. Especially as the content of my reading was fueling my spiritual struggle.
So, at 8:20 p.m. I departed for some shopping therapy. I intended on wandering around Target pick out some dark chocolate and small command hooks, among other things. Then I thought I’d just take a jaunt about the rest of the mall. However, I was unaware that the rest of the mall closed at 9:00 p.m.. We had arrived at the shopping center twenty minutes before nine, so there wasn’t much else I could do besides my scouring of Target.
When it came time for the shuttle to leave I was in the middle of making a very important decision. It had to do with which Aztec print dress I bought. Because I wanted to use my $20 wisely, I decided I could wait for the next shuttle, which would come back at 10:40 p.m.. Unfortunately, I soon realized that I had exhausted my options of things to do with the rest of the mall closed. And I was worried about staying in Target, lest I empty my bank account.
At this point, I was emotionally worn from my previous internal struggling and I was only vaguely feeling better after purchasing some new mascara. Without any other options, I added a pint of Chocolate Cookie Dough Chunk ice cream. I self-consciously stole a plastic spoon from the very closed, Starbucks/Pizza Hut corner in the store and fled into the night. Or more like into the parking lot. For the next forty-five minutes I sat on the side walk of a deserted mall and ate ice cream.
I guess this is what you call an existential crisis. Sunday was a much better day though.
On the way up the mountain I felt like my legs might give way. On the way down I felt as if my spirit might melt. Before me and behind me, friends gasped encouragements while throwing in complaints. My group bonded over their shared misery. The rain water had gotten into our boots and the wind into our jackets. Our dialogue went something like this:
“This is a tragedy!”
“We’re almost there.”
“I can’t believe I’m doing this. Where is the top of the mountain?”
“We’re almost there.”
“This is just wrong.”
“We’re almost there.”
“STOP SAYING THAT!”
Before I was whisked off to orientation for Gordon, I willingly subjected myself to perhaps two of the most intense weeks of my life. I decided to fulfill Gordon’s outdoor education requirement by participating in a twelve day backpacking trip in the Adirondack mountains. You carry all your provisions in and all that is left over out. Along with nine other brave individuals, I trudged over seven mountains and fasted for 48 hours alone in the woods. I never let on to my camp mates that I often wished to collapse in the middle of the trail. However, our group’s drive wouldn’t allow it. A common question that popped into my head was: “Did I really pay to do this?”
As the nine of us participants struggled through, talking was a huge part of making it up the mountain. However, there were certain sentences that were banned from use because of the responses they would illicit, such as: “We’re almost there.” The one phrase that our sherpas, the leaders on the trip, joyously bestowed upon us the most was: “Be here now.” In the La Vida community it is a thoughtful way of encouraging participants to live in the moment and not to worry about anything besides the task at hand. However, by the end of the trip I harbored resentment against those words; as much as such a thing is possible.
Yet, looking back, I do not regret signing up for it. I got to experience challenges that I had never faced before, such as a high ropes course and outdoor rock climbing. Through the pain I learned I can endure much longer that I thought. And through fasting, from both people and food, I learned that I don’t rely upon God as much as I should. Ultimately those days in the wild worked on my heart to be more directed towards what should be the center of my life. And it equipped me to face trials that will confront me in the future.
I keep my dorm keys on a Hogwarts key chain that my cousin brought back for me from Harry Potter World. From the same ring, my glossy ID swings and a black lanyard that tags me as a college student. I barely know my way around campus and my head is swimming with details about what I can and cannot hang up in my room. But here I am, that place I dreamed of being when I was twelve and so taken with college. Orientation has kept me too busy to really realize that I’m not arguing with Enoch about walking the dog.
However, homesickness hit me hard a week earlier when I was hiking in the Adirondacks with some other Gordon freshmen. Sometimes you just can’t help but miss people. But I’m grateful I had such a long drive up with my family before I stepped out on this new adventure. Classes begin on Wednesday although I’m not sure what I’m taking. Honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing.