Christmas At Oberlin -- Oh, My!

By Mary Margaret Towey '01

The following piece was written by a first-year student in her forties who has made Oberlin College her full-time home as she pursues her degree.

The fog makes each lamp along the walks seem to loom out of nowhere in a disembodied blob of haloed light. A single set of footsteps, despite their softness, still echoes against the silent buildings to either side. The opening of a novel by Bram Stoker? Uh uh. No sound of leathery wings above and behind you. In fact, no sound at all. What can it be? Stuck Inside of Oberlin With the Christmas Blues Again.

As my dorm and classmates chattered brightly about where they were going for Christmas break (mostly, home), and what they would be doing (mostly, spending time with family), I listened in silent envy. How nice to have somewhere to go, to have loving someones to go home to. But not me, citizen of the world and resident geriatric collegian. With no family, and no home but the college, I am staying on here over break with the blessing of a compassionate administration.

O little town of Oberlin - the prospect of spending the holidays as the only occupant of a campus dormitory creates very mixed feelings in a first-year student.

What is there to do at the college over Christmas break? The gym closes, the computing center closes, the mailroom closes. Basically, the sidewalks are rolled up and put into storage until January 5th. The public library is a savior: I walk out of there with a literal armload of novels (in my case, eight--I have long arms), knowing I'll have to return as soon as they open after Christmas for another "fix." Starship Troopers is playing at the Apollo--pure serendipity, but only good for a couple of hours. At least the theater will be practically deserted, even on $2 night. I'll have plenty of time to work on one of my novels--but it will have to be in longhand. My computer is in my old dorm room at East, and I'm in Asia House for the duration, heat and security being the operative words. Mostly, though, I'll just cocoon, while thanking the administration for keeping me cozy and warm.

But it is quiet and peaceful here. The air is cleaner without the hordes of teenage rebels spewing nicotine into the atmosphere. The stars shine brightly on clear nights. Jack Frost nips at my nose. Lights twinkle along all-but-deserted Main Street and College Avenue and on the lawn of the Inn. Although hearing carolers off in the distance would be delightful, the serenity is incredible; an ideal opportunity for some intense introspection. What philosopher once said you can never be a complete person until you can be entirely alone and comfortable with yourself? I'm certainly having the opportunity to test that theory.

The ideal Christmas? Probably not. But certainly better than 99.9 percent of the rest of the world had. I count my blessings.