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Love letter to my campus

In 33 days, I’ll no longer be a student at Duke for the first time in eight years.

Since I’m staying at Duke for residency, I won’t be leaving, but I have a feeling it won’t be the same. I’ll never have an excuse to come to campus, park in the Allen Building parking lot, sit on the plaza eating a Loop burger, stand on Main Quad listening to a concert or watching a bonfire burn.

Now, when I walk around campus, my own memories call out to me.

I remember pulling up in the parking lot in front of Blackwell on my first day, walking into the common room to pick up my room key. I remember painting the bridge underneath Main Street during orientation, standing on the East Campus quad at night while a band played, introducing myself to strangers, wondering if I’d ever find my place at this place.

I remember a Chronicle information session in West Duke, the reverence with which I held the editors recruiting us, never guessing that one day I’d be the one doing the editing and the recruiting. I remember a fall night where we drank whiskey, and then tried and failed to climb the fence to play field hockey on Williams Field.

I remember dressing up in a shirt and tie every Friday, carrying my pledge paddle to a 9:10 economics class, dressing up in a costume with the other pledges and standing in the Bryan Center parking lot pretending to be a statue, protesting Duke’s lack of a Viking studies department.

I remember sleeping in a tent with my friends so that we could go to the UNC game, staying up late to make personal checks, waking up the next morning to the sight of other people cleaning up my mess, realizing for the first time that I was lucky to be who I was.

I remember the Nappy Roots in Page Auditorium in front of 50 people, Sister Hazel on Keohane Quad in front of 500 and Kanye West on Main Quad in front of 5,000. I remember taking one of the promotional posters for a Ludacris concert in Cameron Indoor Stadium and hanging it on my wall for four years, even though I only kind of liked Ludacris.

I remember bonfires, five in all. I remember standing in Crowell Quad trying to convince a police officer to let us move the bench to the Quad. I remember when he finally relented. I remember how heavy the bench was and how hot the fire was when we got right next to it. I remember sitting on the ground watching the National Championship bonfire die down. I remember walking back to my apartment through a largely deserted campus with two of my best friends, still not quite believing that my team had won it all.

I remember sneaking down to the football field and kicking field goals until we were chased away by security guards. I remember playing intramural basketball games in Brodie and Wilson and Cameron.

I remember playing stickball in Few Quad. I remember when Larry Moneta swung and missed at a dozen or more pitches before finally making contact. I remember when two of my friends collided, and the beer in one friend’s pocket exploded and I fell over laughing. I remember ghost-riding my friend’s car down Campus Drive.

I remember LDOC barbecues, sitting on my fraternity’s bench wearing a tie and shorts in the sun. I remember Tailgate barbecues, standing in the Blue Zone wearing a tie and shorts in the sun. I even remember going to Duke Football games.

I remember eating chicken tacos at the Dillo and burgers at The Loop and smoked turkey sandwiches in Alpine Atrium and Pasta Pete’s daily specials at the Great Hall. I remember late night treks to Rick’s Diner, where you had to get your food quickly after they called your name, or else someone else would grab it first.

I remember walking across campus as the sun came up over the trees, or driving down Campus Drive on a sunny day looking up at the Chapel and marveling at the beauty of this place.

And as I prepare to really and truly graduate, to never be a Duke student again, I remember all of these things, and I smile. I was lucky to have eight years to call this place home.

Alex Fanaroff is a fourth-year medical student. His column runs every Wednesday.

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