Yesterday, I glimpsed the cracks in it all. The summer has a strange way of making me introspective. Or thinking of the summer, that is. Spring break is a cheap summer stand–in but it still gets me thinking all the same. It's got me down with a case of the Collegiate Dread. This is what I get for rereading The Harvard Crimson's "Why I Left the Spee" article in my last class.
Yesterday at midnight, I left my friend's room by way of her alleyway fire escape. I walked across the parking lot to the rear of my apartment. I remembered when I first moved in there, in that August of 2016, days before my 19th birthday. I still laugh about those days when all I had in my room was a bed and a desk fan, because I had underprepared and promised my mom I could do it all by myself.
I walked along the side of my house and watched my roommate in the kitchen as he was preparing a stir fry. I laughed again, from the same place I did when I was living out of boxes there. When I was 18 in October of my freshman year, I was terrified at the prospect of signing an off–campus lease. When I moved into my apartment with three of my friends sophomore year, I found it funny. I still find Penn's housing situation funny. Nearly half of student body lives off–campus, scattered near and far across University City and West Philadelphia. We play adult in our off–campus houses, cooking and cleaning for ourselves, keeping to ourselves. We prize being out of the University's eye (somewhat), and being one step closer to heading out the door. We experience a unique degree of freedom compared to our Ivy peers, who live in residential colleges and in suites where there's the comfort of an in–house dining hall and increased institutional support.
That's why the summer scares me. It's the taste of adulthood I'm not sure I'm ready for. My friends and I scatter across the country, settling in cities where it's becoming more and more likely we'll live in for real someday. We work nine–to–fives and it's all good and natural and part of growing up.
This summer before my senior year will be different. I'll see more cracks when I return to campus this fall. My imagination will only grow wilder; I'll continue to picture myself moving out of my apartment one somber, humid mid–May afternoon.
These aren't my golden years. I refuse to let them be. Or at least, I refuse to recognize that.
For now I'll play adult with the rest of them, secretly despising the responsibility that comes with it. And I'll probably be a tinge less melodramatic when the time for adulthood finally comes.