By Patrick Chen, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, May 25, 2012
Honestly, I’ve been staring at my screen for a long time, unable to write anything. I suppose my writing paralysis comes from the fact that everything I began to write sounded like an obituary. I have an abnormally premature fear of death. There’s something about the fact that these words are supposed to capture my life at Dartmouth, and I know I can never do it justice in writing. It’s hard not to make old memories and advice sound trite and lifeless. But I’ll try.
One of the things I’ve noticed about Hanover is that fog is rare. But every once in a while when the temperature is just right, early in the morning before the sun cracks, a cool mist floats throughout campus. On these days, the fog is blinding but refreshing, only broken by the soft green light on top of Baker Tower. It is moments like these, when you walk in front of a blurry Dartmouth Hall or up Tuck Mall in silence that Dartmouth is mesmerizing.
My first night of Orientation was when I first experienced the fog. It was thick that night. Some new floormates and I were in our Choates dorm, when around 3 a.m. we heard a hard knock on the door.
“Yo open up, it’s the party train.”
He never told us his name, so we just called him “Party Train” after that. He shepherded us to what would be the first fraternity house I would ever enter. Party Train was a senior, and he and the other seniors had prepared a pong table.
“Enjoy yourselves guys — it’s all downhill from here,” he joked.
So we enjoyed ourselves like typical freshman and eventually all found ourselves sitting on the side of the road in the fog. Party Train was talking to us about the do’s and don’ts, what we had to look forward to, the Dartmouth quirks — the sort of things that are quickly becoming irrelevant as I approach graduation. There was a tone of nostalgia in his voice. The last thing I remember he said was, “I’m gonna miss this place. It sure is something.”
When I walked out into the cooling fog, I was eager and wide-eyed, the future unpaved. Now that it’s been paved, that surreal interaction holds special meaning. I’m sure all seniors can think back and remember a few of these moments.
I don’t know where Party Train went after that talk. That’s the thing with fog. People can disappear just as fast as you meet them. A lot has happened since then, and I’d probably have much to tell him about. I’ve made friends, enemies, good decisions and bad decisions. After four years, all memories become an incoherent blur as they recede into the fog. Maybe there’s a lighthouse in the real world. Either way, I’d probably tell Party Train I agree with him that despite its flaws, this place is something special.
I don’t know how I feel about the end of an era, or if I know how I’ve changed. I certainly feel different after four years here, but everyone does after an experience as unique as college. The nice thing about fog, though, is you can wander in uncertainty.
So that’s what me and the rest of my class will do now that we’re graduating.
We’ll wander in the fog, forever guided by the soft green light of Baker Tower.