As a Texan, or “Person of Salsa” as I prefer to be addressed, I am no great fan of New England’s climate for a good two-thirds of the year. It is with clenched apprehension that I await Hanover’s mutation into a two-tone (gray and white) blur of snow, what everyone else seems to think is some fantastic, Winter Wonderland scenario, like some Twilight Zone episode about a bunch of kids who attend a college housed in a giant snowglobe. I, by contrast, am accustomed dust, mesquite, grackles, sweat and supernovan quantities of sunshine in a sky of molten blue (to borrow a lovely chromatic idiom from my top homegirl Emily Dickinson), so winter in Hanover resembles more of a hell-hole Hoth.
But it is still a matter of a few month’s time before the great icy metamorphosis, and I am enjoying Hanover during the period I do really love: the fall. The air has distinct, seasonal smells to it, there are firestorms of red fallen leaves in every direction, and the sun sinks each evening over the hill in magnificent splendor, like a fat gold cookie being dipped slowly into an earth-sized Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Provoke by such autumnal beauty, I have taken to riding my rental bicycle around to kill time and to think. The bike is a new addition to my lifestyle and quite a good one, too. I’m living off-campus (and loving it!) and the extra minutes shaved off my commute give me great flexibility. It’s also just to move a little faster in a town where everything is so ancient and slow. Sometimes, as I rush past a flock of pedestrians, hobbling in Hunter boots at two miles per hour towards their Earth Science layup, I experience an exhilarating sensation of the quasi-supernatural; I declare to myself in my head:
“On this bike I am not a man. I am a centaur!”
Another great cycling activity is bombing around the Green listening to ‘Bicycle Race’ by Queen at full blast. This is what I was doing one day last week when I spotted one of my best friends, Edward “Crazy Eddy” Henderville. I cut across the Green, slowed down and pulled up next to him.
“Yo, what’s good, Pellowski?”
Not answering his question, I yank out my earphones and announce:
“All the little people of the world, like mosquitoes caught in eddies too large to comprehend, pursuing vain dreams and stalking empty loves: they will never know anything like True Happiness until they ride a bicycle while listening to Bicycle race by Queen.”
Before he can utter a word, I re-insert the earphones and speed off, confident that I have impart some hefty wisdom upon my friend as I coast homeward, bouncing up and down and singing along to the chorus: “BICYCLE! BICYCLE! BICYCLE! BICYCLE!”
Of course, this is all therapy designed to mitigate some deeper despair. As a senior, for the first time in my life I don’t know what I’m doing next year. The near future stretches out before my like a gaping chasm, full of darkness and ice and howling befanged ghosts. I see my brother, Class of 2018, having a great time during his first fall at Dartmouth while I cling to every hour of every day of my last.
It’s freaky how I feel simultaneously like freshman year was forever ago but also still feel like I just got here… and am totally emotionally unprepared to leave. Every square foot of this campus has some memory attached to it, both pleasant and painful. But when will be the last time I remember those memories? When will be the last time I walk down the steps of Reed Hall? When will be the last time I turn off an explored road and find myself face to face with a ten-mile view over a stained-glass valley of pines and flashing river light?
I’m almost inclined to do some stupid romantic thing like plant a time capsule in the BEMA containing a copy of Plato’s Euthyphro, a scarf, the a cappella sheet music to Footloose, a Keystone Light and buffalo tender queso from the HOP. Then, in some surrogate, symbolic way, I would never have to leave. For little part of AP’15—the part I didn’t have when I first stepped into Russell Sage 109 back in 2012—that little part would remain.