OK: I wasn’t at Ludacris – I confess. I sold my ticket last minute to a townie. On Saturday night I found myself in the dreaded position of realizing that, despite the fact that I had a whole game plan laboriously organized since last Monday, I still had work to do. Finals period is coming up and I was just a little too overwhelmed for me to convince myself, especially after the morning’s prolonged hangover and subsequent Val sit, that I could in good conscience go out.
This is not a decision I often make. In fact, I can think of two other times that I chose to absolutely not go out and study instead. One of them was Yom Kippur (the Jewish fast day of atoning for sins) last year. Even then, I wound up getting distracted by people on my floor, and since it was only the second week of school, I didn’t have much homework anyway.
To my delight, I ran into a friend in the library who had found herself in the same predicament. Let’s call her “S.” (If anyone remembers, ConstantLy is supposed to be an anonymous pseudonym, so can’t know who I am or, by extension, who S is. Lol…)
Unfortunately for us, as the night started to heat up, Frost did too. We discovered that Frost’s heating will be on winter-mode until May 1. Womp womp. I was not really interested in sweating through my shirt while reading, so S and I decided that we would have to find an alternate place to sit.
As you may or may not know, study space on a Saturday night is limited. Yes, physics majors have their special keycard access to some of the science buildings and the computers in Smudd stay open 24/7 (right?), but since neither S nor I are science majors, those options seemed pretty out of the question. We knew it would be a long night and we were already exhausted, so we opted instead to sit outside of Frost, perched in a dirty concrete corner and surrounded by our study-camp.
From that vantage point, we could hear music blasting from the socials and the rumblings of groups beginning to migrate to the concert. Initially, the realization that I wouldn’t be going out was pretty fucking depressing. When a friend ran into us and related that he was going to Hampshire’s concert (which included a bouncy castle, a slip-and-slide, and a bonfire), I almost cried. However, as the night wore on and my caffeine buzz set in, I began to re-orient.
Here is a fact: if I had wanted a satisfying “night life” and a social scene more compatible with my interests, I would have gone to Oberlin, Haverford or Wesleyan. I didn’t, though. I chose Amherst because I thought that it had the absolutely best, most challenging academics that I could find. (I don’t mean to put this in black-and-white terms. Of course I enjoy some Amherst parties and I know I’m lucky to have had the academic options I did when choosing schools because all four of those are fantastic.) I’m just saying that I knew that Amherst had crappy food, more athletes, and a less developed creative writing program than any of the other schools I was interested in, but I came here anyway.
Why? Because I’m a kind of a nerd. Because I look forward to immersing myself in female conceptions of sexuality in premedieval India for eight hours straight locked away in a little study room with only Zotero and 8tracks “classical” mixes to keep me company.
The other day I saw someone walking into the library with no shoes, no shirt, and carrying only a beach towel, sunglasses, and his cell phone. This annoyed me. Granted, I often traipse around Frost shoe-less, especially when I’m there for long stretches of time, because it’s more comfortable. This kid, though, seemed only vaguely aware that a library may house books and be used for learning.
Sometimes I think we lose sight of the fact that, first and foremost, Amherst is a school – an institution of learning filled with over-ambitious kids. We try to ignore this fact on weekends since, unlike Umass, which has a frat row and a vibrant off-campus residential life, we live and work on the same quad and walk the same paths to parties that we do to the cafeteria. This lack of spatial demarcation between work and play areas often makes us forget that we have no obligation to be out partying just because everyone else seems to be.
More importantly, I found that I actually enjoyed myself more trading Freudian analysis techniques and boyfriend stories than I did asphyxiating on tent dust at Spring Formal the night before. (Don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean. Everyone accidentally inhaled that mysterious black stuff – apparently they didn’t clean the tent in between TAP and Formal.)
As a sophomore nearing the end of my fourth semester of school, I am in the process of figuring out how exactly I will spend the second half of my Amherst education and more generally the next three-ish years. I’ve decided to take (at the very least) one semester off to learn Hebrew/WUFA at an eco-lodge in the Negev Desert. I am beginning to look (as I imagine many second semester sophomores do) at campus with the pre-nostalgia requisite to going abroad. In this light, it’s nights like last Saturday that I will a) actually remember and b) remember as integral to the Amherst Experience.
To next year in Jerusalem! (Aka Tel Aviv and maybe Kibbutz Lotan, but who’s counting?)