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COLUMN

Approaching the End

Veena Thomas

I’m running out of time.

The weather in Cambridge has remained at 53 degrees for long enough, for so long that I couldn’t even send my winter clothes home with my parents when they came up two weeks ago. I was afraid I would still need my sweaters. And scarily enough, I still do, although it’s May.

Finally, a breakthrough: the temperature broke into the 60s, even close to 70, for a few days. I reacted in the only way I knew how: I played Frisbee and flew kites for hours. I spent one Sunday in Boston Common, enjoying the rare sunshine. I celebrated the advent of May at the May Days festival in Harvard Square, where I had Tibetan food for lunch. I finally wore my sunglasses that had been taking up space in my bag, waiting for the sun. I was so excited. Finally I could truly enjoy being a college student in Boston, spending time outdoors.

Then I realized that I am only spending two more weekends here before going home for the summer, and at least one of those weekends I will be frantically studying for finals. Why do I have to go home now? I was just starting to have fun here.

Of course, I would like to go home to spend lots of time with my family and friends. At the same time, I am very reluctant to leave behind my friends and “family” here. I feel like I’m living a dual life; I don’t really belong anywhere anymore. Or can you belong in two places?

Some of my friends at other universities had trouble adjusting to life at school; I never did. Ever since I arrived on campus I felt like I belonged. I quickly grew accustomed to my new life, while still keeping strong ties to my life outside of school. I was in for a surprise when I returned home for the first time to find that life had continued without me, and that things were different now. But I realized that I had changed too, and so I attempted to reconcile my new life with my old one.

But now I must return home, to the life I knew before. Yet it’s not entirely the same life I knew; I’ve had a year’s worth of experience from last summer, and have lived a very different life. But my family is different now also; they have just purchased a minivan, something that I never could have foreseen. They are also looking at redesigning our house, which I can’t imagine. I’ve lived in that house for fifteen years. I don’t react so well to change, unless it’s me who is changing.

My home life will swap with my life at college. While here, I have drifted from a few of my high school friends while spending all my free time with my friends here. Perhaps this will reverse when I return home; it will be the college friends I lose touch with until September, when the cycle will repeat once more.

But September will be different too from a year ago. I’ll be a sophomore on grades. I probably didn’t take as full advantage of pass/no record as I should have. More than one upperclassman has asked me, “Why are you working so hard? You’re not on grades! Enjoy it while you can!” I tried to listen, but I don’t think anyone understands the blessings of pass/no record until it’s gone. I admit I took advantage of it to justify giving up after numerous late nights of problem sets when I simply couldn’t work anymore.

I can’t fathom how my life will change next year. I’ve lost touch with some of my high school friends. I thought the friends I made during orientation would last me a lifetime, but already some of my good friends from eight months ago have been reduced to mere acquaintances, familiar faces in the hall. At the same time, I’ve made new friends, people who have become my extended family, people who I’ll be sad to see graduate, and those who I can’t imagine not seeing every day when I go home.

So when my family comes in two weeks to pick me up, driving their new minivan to carry home a year’s worth of accumulated items, I don’t know how I’ll react. But until then, in the words of New Order, “It’s a problem I find, living a life that I can’t leave behind... every day my confusion grows.”