On leave


Is it possible to reveal everything and nothing at all?

I was on campus last fall, the first time since starting college. For a while I didn't know what to think or how to talk or act, because everything they say about learning to navigate Stanford is true. There are the things you're told, and there are the things no one tells you and you don't expect, or you do but you don't know what they mean until you've lived them. These you have to find out yourself and only then can you find out others feel the same way. This type of random discovery was relieving until it became perplexing.

College meant incessant talk. As I talked more I learned the language of distance. I even worried I might sleepwalk into a chronic distance. "Keep in touch" is such a cheap phrase, I add "I mean it" when I really do.

College could also be extraordinary. In winter I took a class--a general education requirement, at that--small enough to grow close. Squeezed onto a twin XL with a friend on a night I couldn't sleep in my own room. Watched a movie with two strangers, broadcast from a projector balanced atop a shelf. Biked back from McMurtry at night, screamed along to lyric videos of terrible songs, went on walks any time of day, all with people I care about. I can never tell if what I'm living is "the college experience," but I think it's close enough for now.

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