During the last few weeks, I’ve consistently felt like an old, old man. I’ve spent a lot of time alone and a lot of the rest of my time nitpicking various aspects of my life and/or maligning physical ailments. I’ve gazed at my surroundings with a consistently jaundiced eye, muttering about how predictable everything felt and, with precious few exceptions, being correct in all my predictions. Every so often I grab a cane and wave it at something while screeching derisively about how things used to be different.
It’s really fucking weird, honestly. When I was a freshman it didn’t occur to me that older people — seniors especially — weren’t as unabashedly excited about everything as I was. They just struck me as older, cooler versions of myself, just as curious about and thrilled with everything around them, but better at dealing with all of it. But upon arrival at the end of the arc, I don’t think that’s what was going on at all. My guess is that they, too, felt like it was time to move on, or like it had been time to move on for a while already.
And it really is time to move on. In college, your main — and in many cases sole — responsibility is to listen to really smart people talk about interesting things for a few hours a week and then write things about the things you think about when you think about the things the smart people say. You do that for a while and then, after a while, you start skipping the talks and bullshitting the writing. You start complaining about everything. It’s like being in a room full of toys, refusing to touch any of them, and then bitching about being bored. It’s ungrateful.
But like any old person who mouths off about the way things ought to be, you know exactly why you’re feeling ornery, you know you’re right about it, and you feel justified in saying what you think because you’ve been around so long and seen so much or whatever. You know exactly why your attitude has changed: You’re sick of the blowhard rank and file of academia, the small-minded specialists nursing their pet ideas; you’re sick of the socially inept weirdos that populate your classes and your dining halls, the ones who talk to you in class and then walk by you on the street pretending you aren’t there; you’re sick of the senseless bureaucratic hoops you have to jump through, the reading responses and fire inspections, the e-mails about password changes and the subsequent changing of passwords and the further e-mails that you get about password changes even though you already fucking did that, Jesus, shouldn’t the computer sending you that e-mail be able to talk to the one that knows the new password for shit’s sake?
And you’re not wrong. Nobody around you ever seems to be saying what they mean: They hide behind high-flown diction, or passive-aggression, or institutional jargon, and they never just lay the truth out there, either because they’re not sure what they’re saying or they’re too scared of being wrong to just express themselves clearly and let the world do what it will. It’s awful, and it prevents us from getting as far as we could be getting around here: We’ve got all these wonderful brain cells, but we can’t get them all to talk to each other without all this other shit in the way. Why do we deal in such pretense all the time? Imagine what we could get done if we cut it out for a few days.
But there I go complaining like an old man, and hiding hypocritically in the second person to boot. I’m getting sucked into the old bullshit, probably because I’m not sure what exactly I want to say about my time here. I spent — okay, my parents spent — over $150,000 on this endeavor, and four years of my life have gone into it, too, and now that it’s over I have no idea how to evaluate whether or not it was worth it. I have no well-crafted thesis statement about my college career.
Well, you know what? Fuck it. I think thesis statements are crap most of the time, and that people tend to confuse conviction for truth.
And so, without any conviction whatsoever, here are a few things I think are true:
1) Yale’s been a good time.
2) I’m really glad it’s over.
3) I’ll probably miss it. But not for a while.
Oh, and another thing:
4) I don’t think there’s any other way I could’ve felt at the end of all of this.
In just a few weeks, everything in my life will go up in smoke. And I’m okay with that.
David Chernicoff is experiencing short-term senility. It could be worse; it could be rickets.