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A sure bet

We all remember the excitement of move-in day as freshmen: the seemingly endless traffic approaching East Campus, the overcast sky and hot, humid weather, the frenzy of activity and the countless introductions to new classmates and their families.

When my parents and I made it to the front of Giles, I was asked my room number and before I could set foot in the building, a swarm of FACs were unloading the back of my dad’s truck and hauling stuff inside. I lived on the first floor, and because no stairs were involved, everybody was eager to help me. I don’t remember carrying anything in myself…. I couldn’t compete with their efficiency. Instead, I found my RA, got my keys and walked in to find all my stuff neatly piled next to my door.

It’s been 1,347 days since that morning. And since living in that spacious Giles single, I’ve occupied two West Campus dorm rooms, the Smart Home, a dorm room in Australia that made Duke’s housing–even Central–look like the Grand Hyatt in New York by comparison and most recently, an apartment at the Lofts.

Needless to say, I’ve gotten really good at moving. But I haven’t gotten so good at moving on. Sure, in every situation thus far in my life, I’ve proven capable of conquering and enjoying the challenges once I got over the nerves. But I hate leaving, I hate goodbyes and change makes me anxious.

So here I am, graduation looming only 16 days away. Alongside my excitement for the future, I’ve been suffering lately from episodes of nostalgia and bouts of panic over the unchecked items left on my Duke bucket list.

President Brodhead’s words to the Class of 2009 in their Baccalaureate address have often been echoing in my head lately: “Nooo, I do not want to go.” Imagine his deep voice and distinctive intonation saying those words – it’s more impressionable in real life than in print.

 So why don’t I want to leave? Aren’t I supposed to be tired of papers and exams? Yes, and I am. Is it because I don’t have a post-graduation plan? Nope, I’m thrilled about my new job and I have a fiancé I adore and a wedding to plan, so I’m really excited about what’s ahead.

However, when I think of the things Duke has afforded me, I’m reluctant to accept the fact that the memories left to add to my time at Duke are limited.

I have too many memories already to fit in this column, such as long conversations at the Marketplace dinner table, ANTM marathons with the rowing team in Miami, many nights in 301 Flowers, delicious coffee in Von der Heyden, weekly lunches at the Refectory with my best friend, football and basketball games, the Lacrosse team’s return to the field after the 2006 scandal, runs at the WaDuke trail, the Chapel’s five o’clock bells and countless nights spent cramming problem sets with my fellow BMEs. And I can’t possibly forget a 2010 basketball season capped by a 2-0 record over UNC and a National Championship.

Away from Duke, I’ve been scuba-diving along the Great Barrier Reef while studying abroad and I’ve ridden horses through the Irish countryside with the Equestrian team.

I never could have predicted the days and moments that would become those memories. Despite the fact that Duke was my first college choice, coming to Duke–854 miles from my home outside Chicago–was a gamble for me.

I’m not a betting person, nor am I a daring person. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve made a bet, and the most expensive was $5, with a friend, merely a joke about how many hours an election would take for a certain campus publication. You’ll never convince me to jump off the cliff at the rock quarry and I haven’t yet, nor will I, complete any of the infamous graduation requirements.

But, I can tell you with certainty that I gambled well with my college choice. I have loved my time at Duke and have embraced life below the Mason-Dixon line. A few things I’ve tried and that I recommend:  enjoy Durham–its better than everyone says. Eat at Foster’s and Maple View Farms, go to a NASCAR race, climb the Chapel during Senior Week, spend a summer on campus, fall in love, make your senior donation to the annual fund, swim in the rock quarry and be a Cameron Crazie.

Duke has been an amazing journey and it will undoubtedly be bittersweet when I bid farewell to life as a Duke undergrad.

In two months, I’ll move to Little Rock, AR. And though I won’t have the swarm of FACs to welcome me, I bet that my excitement for beginning life as a Duke alum will be the same as it was for becoming a Duke student four years ago. After all, of the five bets I’ve ever made, I’ve won four. So I’d say my odds are very good.

Ashley Holmstrom is a Trinity senior. She is the outgoing wire editor of The Chronicle.

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