(Marie Lambert)– Spring Break: the college equivalent to high school prom in its exaggerated and inflated importance in the media. Spring Break is the cinematic highlight of the college year—a mythological bacchanal of binge drinking and bikinis that entices freshmen and terrifies their parents.
Although I hope that such an experience is not as universal as Hollywood makes it out to be, I will never know for sure. My Spring Break this week will be identical to last year’s—and very possibly the next two years as well. Oh beloved crew team, how good you are at sucking up all of my free time. The furthest I will travel this week is the six miles to the Connecticut River; the only bit of skin that will see the sun this week is the part of my face which I can’t cover with spandex; the wildest thing I will do this week is eat twice my body weight after two three-hour daily practices (yes, that’s six hours every day). In case you weren’t aware, this is a lot of rowing, and I won’t lie—it’s exhausting. But there is an odd fun to the week that makes it bearable despite the 30-degree temperatures and constant shortage of food to eat.
I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so single-mindedly focused on one area of my life with no other distractions. For the next five days, my life will follow a simple schedule: wake up, row boats, eat food, watch TV, row boats, eat food, sleep, wake up, etc. While I have some friends still on campus for the week, the people I am spending most of my time with are my fellow rowers. They say that nothing brings people together like shared suffering, and as far as I have experienced mild physical suffering, this appears to be true. This week is a rare chance, in particular, for me to get to know the novice (freshmen) on the team. Their relative innocence with regards to both rowing and Amherst life is amusing, and they take me back to the wide-eyed not-so-long-ago that was last year. Oh you’re trying to get singles in Mo Pratt next year? Good luck with that, kids.
As for the work itself, its repetitiveness and exhaustive monotony is refreshing in its own way. The semester up to this point has been a frantic balancing act of classwork, internship applications, maintaining friendships, writer’s block, and working out. For one week, if not completely relax, I can at least trim down my commitments to crew alone—for the most part. I do have some work over break, and I know I could finish some applications in my free time, but primarily my focus will be on perfecting the art of rowing boats as fast as possible. There is a satisfaction in fatigue that is caused by physical exertion alone, as opposed to the usual sleep-deprivation and mental exhaustion of the rest of the semester.
While I watch the morning sun burn away the frost on the river, it’s easy to forget that there are papers to write, readings to be done, emails to send. It’s easy to forget that there are taxes to be filed, financial aid to be renewed, and the world of busy adults to be rejoined, eventually. For at least a week, I can live in a world where nothing matters but the way my oar flows through the water; this is all the break I need. MTV, you can keep your beer funneling contests and gratuitous nudity—I’ll stick with my blisters and hand warmers.