The home stretch

Last week, I had a rather unsettling dream. My subconscious built a world where I and everyone else live in exactly 800-year increments, and every cycle, all the world’s inhabitants are put in a large warehouse. The walls slowly close in, shrinking the warehouse until there’s no space at all, gradually killing the inhabitants. When there’s no one left, everyone resurrects and lives for another 800 years, renewing the cycle.

Yes, this was a weird dream. And yet, it still touched me in a way no dream has for a long time. Finality, renewal: these are themes particularly relevant to me at the moment. Why? Well, I am now a senior, and the walls are closing in on my time at Duke. 

In the warehouse, I felt scared — scared of the end of a period and the start of another. As my last fall semester starts, I’m afraid to say that I’m still scared. For one, I have deeply loved my time at Duke. My best friends all live here. My classwork may be stressful, but it always finds a way to feel fulfilling. Somehow, I manage time for my hobbies. In a year, will this all be gone?

Then there’s my future, post-Duke life — I haven’t pinned down where I will be a year from today, and that makes me anxious.  It’s not an understatement to say that the world is a tad unpredictable right now, and all that makes it hard to see where I will be a year from now. Will I have found a job and a place to live?

Anyways, if I can change the topic for a second — I promise this detour will make sense in a bit. A long time ago, I ran cross country. And I loved it! I loved the outdoors, I loved the runner’s high and I loved the companionship that came with being on a team. But most of all, I loved finishing. And not because that meant the running was done — I loved it because it made me feel accomplished

I made my favorite memory of running in my second to last race in 12th grade. Some context: I was always a really slow runner. I set my best time in eighth grade, and I hadn’t surpassed it up to that point in high school. And in that penultimate race, the finish line was on the backside of a hill, so, to finish, you crest the hill before ending with a 100 meters downhill. And when I ran down that hill, I could see my time — easily my best yet! The feeling of knowing the end was near and that, for once, I was going to finally do my best was indescribably relieving and exhausting. 

If my warehouse dream is some representation of my fears about the past and the future, then this running story is my desire to make the best memories right at the finish line. The warehouse walls haven’t closed in on me yet — I still have an entire year at Duke to live! That’s nothing to scoff at: a year of Chronicle articles, basketball games in Cameron, shifts at the Puppy Kindergarten and weekends with all my best friends. And anyways, I think my anxious feelings are a bit natural. I’m not worried that I feel worried, if that makes sense — finishing college is, after all, a stressful time. 

Clumsy metaphors aside, I just want to make the most of my last year of college. I will not be paralyzed by my fears, and I will go out of my way to seek out new experiences, new places and new friends. With these affirmations in mind, I might just have a good year. So, where to start?

-Jonathan Pertile, Recess Editor

Jonathan Pertile | Recess Editor

Jonathan Pertile is a Trinity senior and recess editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.


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