I don’t know exactly what I expected from senior year, but I definitely didn’t imagine I would feel so old so fast. I’m noticing less the crippling headaches and fuzzy memories after a hard night out and more the conversations overheard from the newly arrived Class of 2016, many of whom were born in 1994, which still boggles my mind four weeks into the year. All the talk of stumbling back home after a “totally sick party on West, bro” has left me feeling a bit like the old dude from “Up.” At the same time, the presence of the new kids affords me the opportunity to listen in on their highly entertaining frosh discussions on the C-1, which include everything from how good the food was at Cosmic the night before to how bad that homeless dude smelled outside Cosmic the night before. My personal favorite thus far: Girl A complimenting Girl B on her choice of swimming as an activity since it provides great exercise, to which Girl B nonchalantly replied, “Yeah, and you know, it’s good for saving lives and stuff.”
Freshmen make me feel old—not because of how much they think they know, but because of how much they have yet to experience. While I’m contemplating my own collegiate mortality and beginning the struggle to avoid unemployment come June 2013, freshmen are still figuring out what the best cheap places to eat on Ninth Street are (Chubby’s, Elmo’s and Bali Hai, now and forever) and whether the bull at Shooters is completely safe (jury’s still out on that one). Listening to complaints about how bad the Marketplace food is makes me smile only because I whined with the exact same ignorance three years ago. (Seriously, for all of the Marketplace’s culinary faults, at least you can eat unlimited amounts of cereal whenever you want. Good luck finding that anywhere else.)
Now that I’ve matured substantially and found new things to complain about (namely, the fact that every home football game necessitates a forced vehicular exodus from West Campus), looking back at what qualified as freshman year “problems” is an interesting exercise. Not only because my fellow 2013 classmates and I dealt with those same issues, but also because they are evidence of how little the college experience really changes from year to year. You go to class (probably), you do your work (hopefully) and you try to do things outside of school that are worthy of storytime aboard the C-1.
Freshman stories are like those throwback songs you hear every now and then. They remind you of something that you may have forgotten but that you never completely cast from your memory. Like the first time you chase after a bus only to get denied by the driver and watch in disbelief as it roars away. Or the first walk back from Shooters after what could only be described as an eye-opening (and possibly eye-searing) experience. Or the first time you camp out for a basketball game, where salvation comes in the form of food trucks and early grace periods. Or even the first time you do something crazy, stupid and potentially dangerous simply because you are young and dumb and, for the most part, free.
Freshman year is all about those firsts; senior year will eventually bring questions about whether this could be the last time something happens. For example, “Is this the last time I have to move my car?? Hot damn I hope so!!” (OK, OK, I’ll stop. But seriously, there has got to be a better way.) It’s not so much that time is running out, but more that I’ve begun to realize how little time there was to begin with. Last time I checked, I was safely ensconced in the Duke bubble and the real world seemed a safe distance away. The rapid shortening of that distance sometimes makes me yearn for freshman year again, if only so that I can have a few more “firsts” before the inevitable “lasts” roll around.
Then again, I’m not at the edge of the Duke bubble, not yet at least. I just thought I would get my mushy and sentimental senior column out of the way sooner rather than later. There’s enough time for a few more adventures. I just hope they’ll make stories that are worth telling.
Jordan Siedell is a Trinity senior. His column runs every other Friday. You can follow Jordan on Twitter @JSiedell.