So this is it: the final throes of a summer that wrestled hard at every bell. It’s nowhere near submission, and I won’t pretend I’ve ever been in control, but the fight’s almost over. Soon, the bookies will go home and the neon will fade and I’ll be standing in my tastefully purchased Cambridge thrift store cape in the empty arena, wondering what to do with myself. All my friends are either graduated or gearing up for insane abroad adventures.
I bought a 7-day T pass today. It expires August 11. I’m out of here August 20th. Two weeks, two days, Conn College.
So what did I learn? What do I still have left to think about?
I’m willing to bet this is the first summer since I was maybe 10 years old that has revolved around more than paranoia that the people I consider friends will or won’t call me to hang out in some barely distinguishable region of post-agricultural developmentally ravaged middle Massachusetts. Everything I’ve wanted to do, I could make happen; anytime I was bored was my own fault.
And I’m still sitting here thinking about people who, two weeks from now, won’t be a feature of my life at all. But they couldn’t seem to matter more. Maybe it’s because I’ve always lived moment to moment, (becca) coping better with the present situation than I do with planning for hypotheticals. Still, I’m inclined to believe that not dwelling on a future that is so far beyond control (anyone seen 2012? or, for that matter, Independence Day?) that planning seems obsolete the second it occurs is tantamount to being realistic.
I mean, what else is there? Magical realism? First off, I don’t write nearly as well in Spanish. Second, I don’t have much faith in non-scientific occurrences to intervene metaphorically in my day-to-day life. And I just had a lengthy (anthropology-based) debate with my friend Zoe about science filling the role of religion in modern Western culture.
Ultimately, I’ve been fired from a fine-dining restaurant (along with a good number of my co-workers) and disappointed by the minor role interns play in locally-focused journalism. But I’ve also learned a lot about what it means to have opportunities everywhere, and that last point seems especially applicable to Conn.
In one regard, sure, there’s a buttload going on every day that never seems to cross most students’ minds, and I have a strong feeling or two about how to change that. [Full disclosure: I book shows. Come to them. I know you're not doing anything.] In another, there’s the consideration that there’s a lot going on which even I don’t think about.
To make the most of the summer, which is both my first summer in Boston and the only summer I’ve ever spent under my own power with more than maybe five friends (not to mention public transportation and living outside my parents’ house), I’ve had to be on my toes, trying to tell the difference between PR posturing and genuine DIY enthusiasm. And it’s been rewarding insofar as I’ve mostly found cool things only curious people find out about.
But there were still those nights when all that presented itself was a bomber of Long Trail Doublebag, an acoustic guitar, and the rooftop of a friend’s rented frat-house room. And what I’m struggling with is the tendency to undervalue those in favor of nights spent watching Nauset Light illuminate the surf or listening to some soon-to-be Conn performer tear it up in a dirty basement. Although I’m inclined to say the drama of involvement and people is more eventful, more noteworthy, or more important, I’m finding the highlights of my summer to be an even split.
Kurt Vonnegut has this whole thing he mentions in a few places where his uncle once told him to express his feelings out loud when he notices that he enjoys something. The idea is that when you realize you like what you’re doing, you should say aloud, “If this isn’t nice, what is?”
I think it’s excellent advice. This summer has been mercurial and evanescent, to get all grandiloquent on you. Every ten minutes it has had a different atmosphere, and the rug seems to get pulled out from under me more often than I do laundry.
I’ve been having the first inklings of excitement toward returning to Conn for one last uninvolved orientation/pre-class session of aimless summer collegiate fun, all endless MOBROC barn access and free reign over looking like a champ in front of friendless, lonely, too-young-to-possibly-be-in-college freshmen. And a lot of my internship has led to good ideas about how to improve what I care about in the face of the ever-shifting internet landscape [Lilah: look at the Voice idea-wiki].
But what seems to matter, more than ever now that I’ll be a senior, is appreciating what won’t last. Which is why I won’t think more about Conn than I have to. Which is why I won’t short-shrift the rest of my internship. Which is why I’ll continue to write acoustic songs, knowing full well a drummer is a week away.
Kurt had a point. Living for tomorrow is the same thing as not living at all. So I will be in Boston until I’m not in Boston. I will write until my fingers fall off. A wiser man than me once said: “Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact.” It’s time I took that to heart. After all, he continues: “Maybe everything that dies some day comes back.” And while I doubt I’ll have another senior year, another summer in Boston devoid of worries about permanent occupation, another moment to draft MOBROC-wide email puns while cruising Cape Cod, I don’t see any point in dwelling on the fact that I won’t. I’ll see you all in the fall, and I’ll see you with both eyes. The future might be better than today, but I’m hellbent on noticing what’s great about the present.
Because if this isn’t nice, what is?