I expect many things during the first weeks of the semester: the sensory deluge of Camp Yale, the chaos of shopping period, the feeling of inadequacy at the mention of my classmates’ summer adventures. I expect to be rejected from some seminars, accepted into others, to awkwardly scurry in and out of classes I never had the intention or capacity to take.
But I do not expect my mattress to attack me in my sleep.
In order to explain, I must rewind.
Fully conscious of the fact that this year was going to be an intense one, I resolved that I was going to have a really comfortable bed. Twenty-percent-off coupon in hand, I scoured the shelves of Bed, Bath and Beyond and invested a portion of my summer salary into a three-inch mattress topper, complete with holes that provide ventilation and insulation during the more frosty months.
The first night back, the sounds of freshmen-glee echoing across Old Campus, I laid my head upon the sweet cushion of joy and had a blissful slumber. The ecstasy was short lived, though; the following morning, I awoke to the unfortunate realization that I was covered in hives. It turns out even something that molds to your body can cause you great harm. This hadn’t happened since the great clam debacle of 1998, when we first learned that I was allergic to shellfish.
I’m just a girl trying to make it in the world day by day and get a good night’s sleep in between. Is that a crime?
Apparently, in memory foam world, it is.
As I bitterly wrenched the cursed arbiter of allergies from atop my mattress, I looked out the window. My eyes were snatched by a simple apparatus leaning coyly in the recycling area beside LC. I’d heard wooden boards made excellent box-springs.
I recruited a suitemate to conduct further investigation. Aside from some remnants of steel wool and varnish on one side, the board was more than suitable.
The next night’s sleep was fantastic. The retired mattress topper now rests folded in the corner of my common room, a reminder that sometimes plans don’t work out the way in which you intend, but that unexpected turns can yield splendid results.
Perhaps living on Old Campus makes me more nostalgic than usual. I sat with a suitemate in our common room last night and thought about how much has changed in a year.
I never expected to be part of half of the extracurricular activities in which I am currently involved — to have developed the passions I did. I did not expect to be unsure about my major, possibly headed to medical school, and with second thoughts about corporate America. So much has changed, indeed.
Toward the end of the summer I had a meal with my boss’s boss’s boss. We sat at a small table in a restaurant in the middle of Times Square. We hit the post-lunch crowd, so the midday murmur wasn’t so loud.
She asked me what I planned to do after school and if I always knew I wanted to be in business. “Why not attend a university with an undergraduate business program?” she asked.
I told her I still didn’t know whether or not I wanted to be in business, that I hadn’t ruled out medicine yet and that I didn’t even have a major. We discussed the blessings and curses of a liberal arts education, the frustration and uncertainly associated with the freedom it provided.
I told her I envied those who knew what they wanted and were doing what they needed to obtain it. I wished I knew how it would all turn out.
She shared an anecdote from when she was journalism student at the University of Indiana:
“What do I think I’m doing?” she lamented to her advisor. “Everyone else knows what they want, where they’re going … .” She talked about her classmates — those in finance, headed off to high-power internships, those on the straight and narrow path to medical school — and ran her fingers through her hair, discouraged. “I’m never going to find a job!”
Her advisor paused for a moment and chuckled. “Oh, pish posh — you’ll get a job. Just this way, you’ll have a hell of a lot more stories to tell once you get there.”
Cheers. Here’s to another year — may yours be hive-free, and replete with stories to tell.