My first day of class, I was up before my alarm. I typically take an extra ten minutes to mourn the end of summer. That morning, however, was the exception. That morning was a magical microcosm of perfection, on par with a sunny “getting-ready-for-school” movie montage. I could almost hear faint echoes of peppy ukulele music.
There are times when I can forgive myself for unleashing my inner music fangirl. Even rarer are the occasions when I can allow myself to release her in public. During Boston Calling, two days before my first hell week, was one such occasion. In that period of pre-hell week, I saw armies of deadlines and tests march toward my slapdash barricade — namely, the weekend — but it was too early for a call to action. All I could do was sit quietly in a corner and hope that if I ate enough chocolate, I would survive the trials to come.
Unlike most horror stories, ’twas not dark and stormy when disaster struck one mild Friday afternoon. It might as well have been, though — the magnitude of my technological catastrophe should by all rights have triggered a swirling mass of rain and hail. Instead, I was left to gape at the aftermath of my colossal mistake to a backdrop of sun and blue sky.
There are few text messages in this world that would prompt me to ditch a Chipotle burrito bowl and sprint back to campus. These anomalies include: “fountain of youth sprung from burst New House pipe,” “Random Hall milk gained sentience,” and “free pizza at Burton-Conner front desk.” On Halloween night, while taking advantage of the burrito discount, I received one such text of immense motivational caliber.
Allow me to describe a moment of distilled fear. Imagine Simmons Hall Auditorium: MIT students line the seats, crammed shoulder to shoulder. Audience members spill from plush red rows onto the stairs. Every pair of eyes is fixed on a lone figure onstage. A spotlight chains her in place. As initial applause dies down, she begins to speak into the microphone in her hand — and in that moment, more than anything in the world, she wants the audience to laugh.
Every day we trudge through the Infinite. We pass peers, professors, and staff, all heading their separate ways. In Campus Life, we cross paths; we learn each other’s names and hear each other’s voices. This year, we heard resilience in struggle and grief in loss, courage under pressure and inspiration in hard work. We heard from our president, from a student EMT, from incredible people in hard places. Now, we return to their stories — we’ll catch a glimpse of their lives before they melt back into the crowd. This is you and me. This is MIT.