We know the difference between the scope and scale of everything that whizzes through our brains and the teensy fraction of it anyone will ever understand. We know what it’s like to have a head filled with thoughts that we have no idea how to condense into a coherent worldview and that we still somehow have to try to distill and convey to other people. We know that most people see us in pieces and that they never truly see what goes on inside. We know how to agonize over the part that people do see, even if it’s just a small part, because why not?
We know what it’s like to study the night before a test we think we’re going to fail and the dread and the wanting to quit and the quitting and the pursuant indignation and disgust and desperation. We know what it’s like to sit at a computer for two hours having written two sentences for a paper we just can’t wrap our noggins around. We know what’s it like to stay up until 4 a.m. to finish a lab report. We know what it’s like to chase a brass ring that one day we know everyone will come to respect, and we know what it’s like to wait for that day too.
We know what it’s like to shotgun a beer and then another while we wait for pong and then play a game and feel our bodies get heavy and our heads hurt and our faces and stomachs get hot. We know what it’s like when time slows down and speeds up all at once. We know what it’s like when the alcohol crosses the blood brain barrier and excites GABA, the body’s inhibitory neurotransmitter. We know what it’s like to wake up the next morning with a mouth drier than sandpaper.
We know why most people do their most serious black-out drinking and drug abusing and debauched canoodling while they’re in college. We know that some part of us is still young and scared and that we’re dealing with our anxieties in a uniquely adolescent way. We know that this has nothing to do with frats and that the same problems exist at other schools and that in fact frats here probably just make the whole process more fun and safe and easy to monitor. We know that the guys tossing their cookies in trashcans at 3 a.m. on Saturday night are at some level just trying to escape from the stuff that any good upbringing has conditioned them to think about. We know that’s what this weekend is partly for and we know that when every generation of adults observes the next’s shenanigans they adjust their glasses and shake their heads and exclaim that for the love of God something must be done.
But we also know that this weekend and others like it are about more than ignoring GPAs, or acne, or worldviews, or how many Advil we’ll need in the morning, or what the hell we’ll do after graduation, and that they’re really about being the kind of person who can have fun without having to replay things in his head afterwards to enjoy them.
We know that weekends like this are in the end truly about being with friends and being ridiculous with friends and being outside and enjoying Dartmouth and the sun and the barbecue and the Block Party and the beer and our lives, here because we can. We know this weekend is about tradition and coming together and green and alums and (for some) getting ready to say goodbye and giving it one last hurrah because even though weekends like these cannot sustain us over the long haul not in the same way that love or fiction or music or sports or religion or business or whatever else works for each of us individually can we also know that in some visceral way they are almost as important.