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Gray hair is code for more than just age. I hear well-intended observations about the gray coming through on my head frequently enough that I remember it’s happening to me.
What’s next? If anything can be learned from witnessing the paralytic face that, at best, was anonymously donated by a cadaver and worn by Zodiac Killer Ted Cruz throughout his campaign, growing old is something artless.
Limbs go stiff like your arms and legs are wrapped in papier-mâché, and you hop along disjointed and glued together like an exsanguinated C-3PO until the plaster mold starts to break around your joints. This goes on for years. And then you have to take regular lifestyle vitamins to comfortably ease out of the pasty skin. Jesus.
I went on a job interview last week. My hair is going ghost but I still have the gelatinous body of a tadpole. The tiger lady who interviewed me was polite, assertive and asked me “okay?” a lot. I nodded. “Okay.”
“If you don’t get a call by 3 PM just take that as a polite indication that we decided to go with another candidate.” “Okay.”
I didn’t get that call. Which is sort of relieving, actually. Seems to me like you shouldn’t mourn for a job that never felt right in the first place. And if you’re uncomfortable, you should leave the interview right away. Or maybe stay for the interview. I don’t know. Up to you. (Equally true, if no one thinks a job is right for you – like how America felt about a Ted Cruz presidency – you should bow out and leave right away.)
The next six months to six years are going to be awkward as hell, much like every interaction between Ted Cruz and his family. Staged, limp embraces. That moment when you forget how to portray a regular human. Elbows to the catatonic face. But maybe he’s onto something: perception is everything.
I was a dispatcher in the office of campus safety for two years and my domain was Friday night. Every Friday night for two years. I printed hundreds of ID’s, dug through layers of old sweaters and scarves in the lost and found. I logged countless patrol tours, called ambulances for alcohol poisoned underclassmen, and sounded the alarm for thieves at the bike rack with my eye on the grainy camera feed. One time I spoke on the phone for what felt like hours to a mom frantic for word about her missing kid, an Emmanuel student. There is no protocol for student workers during a situation like that. Hair color? Responds to any nickname? What do you think they’d be wearing? I tried.
We talked about proms and family vacations, beloved grandparents and acceptance day until the incantation was complete, but these nuances were anguishing for the both of us as her memory and my imagination got further away.
Eventually, she said thank you and hung up. Police officers found that student later, passed out on the grass at a different campus, safe.
I started commuting to school from home as a junior and by necessity kept out of Emmanuel society for the better part of my remaining time here. The train schedule runs my life. To be anywhere under the same circumstances, it isn’t hard to feel a sense of mild exile.
This is also when Emmanuel opened up for me.
one of the best student publication in Emmanuel College’s history, and I got to be a part of it. Being involved with The Hub, at the level I was involved, provided me with grounds for major outlook and a sustained vision of where to go in my life. Sound dumb? I’m literally not kidding. A few of our editors and staff are definitely magical indigo people who will bring about a new age.
Invest time in your college publication circuit. Be on the lookout for blue and gold lit mags, newsletters and click-bait listicle farms as they are established. Support them all, and drag them if necessary. Drag us at The Hub, too. Keep everyone accountable, including yourself.
Ask questions. Utilize the platform of a campus newspaper. Go to regular SGA senate meetings. We would not have had information or dialogue about the promotion and tenure of professors if we didn’t ask for it. We would not have cultural competency training for faculty and student leaders (soon to be student body at large!) at Emmanuel College if no one asked for it. These were victories in and of themselves for the student body and their advocates.
One more piece of advice I think is worth sharing: everyone needs a friend in their corner, but the good in people can be outweighed by the bad. Even a little bit. Your own benevolence is not inexhaustible, and you can’t maximize it to stop anyone from hurting themselves or from hurting others. Or from hurting you. Goodness is not an absolute. If anyone has a mind to disrespect you or not love you nearly as much, walk away. Keep a distance. You will go back. Don’t ever go back.
I walk under the window of my old room in Joe’s along Brookline Avenue every morning. I look for people standing on the roof of the Loretto lounge where I used to go, climbing out the window next to my bed in the second-floor quad (Attn: don’t get caught and ruin it). My freshman year room assignment was so great it was unfair.
My favorite people who went to this school, I met them through that room; I met them outside at the former smokers table next to the big tree. I don’t smoke. These were the dining hall marathoners who skipped class and ate breakfast with me in the morning until the café closed at night.
I don’t really know what impression of myself remains or if one lasts when I go. Or if I should even think about that at all. If I should want the past I believe will always be mine, knowing it may not be recalled the same or convened again. I see little bursts of life ahead sometimes when I’m in good company, so much that a needle on a barometer would flicker if there was one in the room. That’s what the range of belonging can do. It defies language but has incredible powers to render the sheer possibility in us that we can’t see alone. And I’m so thankful.
(Author’s note: lol ok fam so who likes sangria find me during senior week!!)
Paul Rowley ’16 was a manic Staff Writer and angry Columnist for The Hub. Follow him on Twitter @ThePaulMonitor or e-mail him firstname.lastname@example.org.