Campus Life wenbo’s walks

Dilapidated doting

How much have I truly changed?

There’s always a level of uncertainty in these articles. For example, with the new semester dawning upon us, should I break from the trend of cross-referencing previous entries published prior to this one?

After much consideration, I figured that I should. Given that a good portion of possible readers have not read any of the previous articles in this column, I should probably turn a new page. Or something. That was definitely not a reference to a previous article.

Oh, there’s another reason I want a “reset button” of sorts after each semester, I suppose. Hypothetically, taken to the extreme, I can envision a potential article in which almost every word is hyperlinked in the web version.

These are my thoughts I’m pouring out onto this page, after all, and in theory if this goes on indefinitely I will eventually drain my basis set of observations and inevitably everything I say will become tangentially related to everything else.

Such an article would not only be a pain to read and aesthetically unappealing, but it would also bring me, the person adding in all these links, immense dissatisfaction. You and I are both (presumably) here to have a good time, so let’s not do that.

I mean, hopefully, I’ll have more than three years’ worth of original thoughts left before I graduate. I was only speaking in hypotheticals.

However, despite the fact that changes like these are inevitable, I suppose some things never change in the long run. For example, consider the publication of these articles. Guess what? To the (possible) joy of the avid Campus Life supporter, Wenbo’s Walks will return to a biweekly schedule after our brief excursion into monthly editions over the summer.

You may be wondering at this point: “Are there other things that won’t change, Wenbo?” After all, I set up this entire premise of perpetuity, and now you’re expecting more details, as if I’d just written a thesis statement or something. Whelp. To be quite honest, I had a few things on my mind, but I appear to have forgotten them.

But I will tell you what is on my mind: a quote from the late Ken Kesey from his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: “But it’s the truth, even if it didn’t happen.” Reminds me of hypotheticals, I guess.

Oh wait, I remember now! Another thing about my column is poor transitions!

Anyways, Pennsylvania: a strange detail to appear on the Taylor Swift song “seven,” an even stranger place to whimsically drive up to from Virginia amid a global pandemic. As always, I should preface this by saying that I do, in fact, like a responsible citizen of the world, social distance and wear a face covering.

But this walk in the fields of the Keystone State is something I would’ve never been able to anticipate. It’s almost cathartic. I’m seeing things I hadn’t seen in years since I left the great state of Texas.

There’s an old barn in the distance, planted before a crumbling skyline of trees. The planks tacked onto its sides can scarcely mask its decaying infrastructure. The red paint is largely gone, and the shingles of the roof have already caved in, rainwater mirages resting in the pools of a metallic desert.

As I walk by, I can’t help but feel injury on behalf of the barn. Why did people abandon it? It certainly lacks none in valor or, surely, former grandeur. It had the capacity (literally) to be great, so the fault must lie upon those responsible for its upkeep.

But is this barn more a consequence of time? It’s a common saying that time heals all wounds, but what if some of them scar? Is that truly any better than just being a “cool” story to tell at parties?

I wish I could afford to buy the barn off whoever owns it, because if nothing else, I would attempt to do the current eyesore some justice. Maybe restore it to its former glory, eventually raising some hens or something. I’d hesitate on livestock only because they contribute to global warming.

But alas, I cannot afford the purchase, and perhaps I should work first to ensure my own barn doesn’t befall the same fate. Of course, it’s a large task to ask of one person, so I’ll have someone to help me along the way. And then afterwards, I’ll do what I can to save this barn. Perhaps.

Aaaand now I’ve dug myself into this hole of absurdist sentiment. How does Wenbo transition out of it into a less serious voice again? Oh, that’s right — he doesn’t.

Did someone say nonsensical metaphors and generic weirdness? No? Well, I don’t care, I thought of it and thus I shall address it preemptively just in case. Those are traits of my column too, I guess. This particular article has really been more of a self-discovery into what this column is at heart, hasn’t it?

I often wonder how much I’ve changed since leaving Texas. I think there’s a notion that many individuals tend to be like homing pigeons or sparrows, that no matter how far they travel from their birthplace, the apple ultimately never falls far from the branches of the forgiving tree.

I don’t know if I feel the same way about Texas. I have an undying love for the state somewhere in my heart that shows itself in peculiar ways through the yeehaws of country music. But at the same time, the state has numerous issues and frequently does things that make me question my adoration for it. Often, the only thing that attaches me to it is that I was born there. But should that truly muddle my judgement of the state?

I also wonder, similarly, how much I’ve changed since starting this column. I mean, in the first article, I was still commenting on the price of eggs at H Mart compared to Target, but look at me now. I’ve grown from ranting about a single egg to musing over the entire barn.

Look, do any of these barns, whether it be the Pennsylvania one or my own, really exist? I’ll defer to Kesey on that one. But is it any less of a truth? I’ll pose that as a question to my readers as I sit here having moved into my new place in Boston. I’ll see you again in two weeks.