Experiencing autumn and college life post-pandemic
After a year of virtual college due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I, a sophomore, returned to the Brandeis campus feeling like a first-year. The freshness of real college life soon faded away with the academic and social stresses of a new environment striking me, and the depressing cold of New England approached at the same time.
The beginning of the semester started well. I wasn’t very busy with school and everything just felt so fresh. I went to Boston with my friends almost every weekend, returning to campus right before midnight, hanging out in one of their rooms until 3 a.m. Giving out kisses and hugs to each other, snatching away someone’s phone and leaving him a hundred selfies, and watching some drunkards lying on the floor the whole night — I loved every second of it.
And then the weather started to change. It started to rain, and then it got colder. One night, I saw that the leaves had changed after a storm when a spark of gold suddenly flashed from the trees outside of my dorm. I remembered I was hanging out in my friend Ollie’s room that night. Ollie lives in a single room on the top floor of our dorm. His room has the best view — the Boston skyline.
I sat on the window sill, hiding inside the curtains, watching white fog appear on the window as I breathed. I took a few more deep breaths and wrote something on the glass. I could not even remember what I wrote; maybe something close to “OMG it is fall now.”
This line would soon disappear as the white fog dissipated, then reemerge again the next night when the windows would block out the cold and trap the warm and damp air inside. I had not been to Ollie’s room in a while. I don’t know if this moment has already happened, nor if he found out what I left on the window.
And then he pulled open the curtain and asked me what I was doing.“Nothing,” I said, “just fall is coming.”I love to inspect the changing of seasons. I watch the leaves turn from bright gold to dark crimson, finally falling to the floor in a dusty brown shade, giving out a delightfully crispy sound when people step on them. I remember taking a Latin poetry class last semester where we learned the Roman poet Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” a tale consisting of short stories of how gods change the shape of humans and animals. Ovid opened the first book with the king of gods, Jupiter, creating the four seasons and sending out a minor god, Vertumnus, to be in charge of the changing of seasons and the growth of the plants.
I do believe in these gods. They enable me to capture the tiniest change of time, even as the leaves fall in the blink of a moment. But Ollie didn’t appreciate this mythology as much as I did. He didn’t like fall because fall was too short in New England and the leaves fell off the trees too fast. When all the leaves were gone, winter would arrive. Winter was even worse than fall for him.
I didn’t say anything, but my heart started to grow out of a sense of grievance. I thought I was starting to miss summer.
But the seasons still listened to Vertumnus, not me. I had a fight with Ollie — afterwards walking shakily alone in the night wind, trying to stop my tears by eating corn chips and finishing season three of “Sex Education” by myself. The ending made me emotional the entire weekend. My fashion history class had us write an essay on Coco Chanel. I mean, I can’t even afford her products, so how can I understand her as a person?
The paragraph above is pure trash talk. If I had the writing center look over this essay, they would probably tell me to summarize everything into one sentence.
But I have yet to figure out how to put my own life together, so how could I easily write about it in just a few words?
After two months of college, I still need more time to get used to the in-person college atmosphere. I messed up deadlines with too many things going on at the same time, had no idea how to deal with drama within my friend group and over-ranted with others during a mental breakdown.
However, since I cannot go back to Aug. 25 nor make summer start over, it might be better to just see how things go, letting time take its course. The changing of the seasons is inevitable whether or not it is because of the god Vertumnus, but no matter what, there are still many seasons that will pass before I get used to college life and even more to expect beyond the next fall’s leaves.
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