Falling Into Things

Swallowing a deep breath of air, I emerged from the lake still tangled in a messy dance with the capsized kayak. The water was still surging into new pockets and crevices against my skin as a gentle reminder of my plummeting into Dunmore mere seconds ago…

Arriving on Middlebury’s campus on a humid day in September, I felt overcome with joy, anxiety, and general excitement. That day being the start of my senior year, I certainly wasn’t new to feeling the range of emotions that accompanies the onset of a new year. Yet still, the thrill of the first day routine never ceases to conjure the dormant enthusiasm that lay dominant in those three long summer months. This thrill was suddenly removed when I was faced with the task of moving my two carloads of stuff (not all quite necessary) up the two flights of stairs to my new dormitory. Seven trips to the car later and my unpacking were complete. After saying a hurried goodbye to my parents, I laid on my new bed and took a quick glance around my room. The stuff that occupied the surfaces of the polished wood furniture seemed to almost reflect my journey here at Middlebury. On my bookshelf was my favorite textbook from Animal Behavior, its spine worn with damage from crinkling papers and frantic highlighting. The emblem of my organization, Distinguished Men of Color, was posted just above the bookshelf. Its gold and blue colors gleamed with the words activism, community, and unity. Just under the poster stood my black refrigerator, covered in stickers that ranged from Wonnacott Commons to Noonie’s Deli. Even the cleats from my old Quidditch days were inconspicuously placed against my blue shag carpet, as if at any second they would animate themselves to go seek out the newest ‘snitch’. For me these things were not simply reminders of events and moments of mine at Middlebury, but rather physical markers of my journey to adulthood over the past four years. All the emotions, stress, happiness, and struggles were folded within the lines of my animal behavior textbook or snuggled within the words of the DMC poster.  Moving in wasn’t just coming back, but instead continuing the thrilling journey that started on this campus four years ago.

Beyond moving in, first week jitters can seem abundant, greeting old friends and making new ones, reestablishing that intimate bond with your homework, and even remembering which building hosts which class are all endeavors that come with the process of returning to Middlebury’s campus. As I enter my senior year however, all of these tasks felt a little more comfortable. A sense of belonging to this campus certainly accompanies all students at Middlebury. Even as a senior, new experiences still await you. For me this included my first time kayaking on the beautiful lake Dunmore—a site only 15 minutes away from campus and a favorite retreat for seniors.  On that day, as I entered the kayak, I couldn’t help but feel nervous and excited even after experiencing my first capsizing. Even so, after a few strokes in the water it actually became pleasant—just like the sense of anxiety that comes with arriving back on campus.

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