Oberlin Blogs

On New-ness and Leaves

October 23, 2013

Andrea Allen ’17

It is possible that going places alone during orientation week, or within the first few weeks of college at all, is considered a major freshman faux pas. Then again, I have been known to wear white after Labor Day and use soupspoons in my coffee. Funny enough, nothing terrible has ever happened after I've done either of those things, and I can say the same for going to Stevie alone to grab a bite before a class. I even went to a concert at the 'Sco one night by myself. Again, the sky did not fall, but more importantly, I did not die of embarrassment. I just wanted to go hear some music and get the lay of the land. (It was then that I made the magical discovery that DeCafe, the 'Sco, and the mailroom are all connected by a secret tunnel that obviously I'm the only one who knows about.)

Amidst the chaos of meeting people and trying things, I also found some alone time to squeeze in. It helped me relax and look around (and give my jaw muscles a rest from making introductions), and was absolutely worth it.

Other things I did by myself: I went to several club meetings, along with the ExCo fair, to sort out my interests and figure out how I'm going to do all the things while still making sure to not do all the things. The way that all worked out is I'm now learning how to rewire the body-coordination section of my brain by taking the Blues Dancing ExCo and going to Acro club every week. Everyone involved has been so enthusiastic, willing to help, and just ridiculously awesome. My gratitude has reached sky-level and seriously, it's only been five weeks.

Last weekend, my roommate went to visit family for a short two-day trip. As she packed her bag and got ready to head to the airport, she said to me, "Have the best weekend ever, but also don't!" She wasn't being rude; she just didn't want to miss out. At the same time, we've gotten to be chummy enough that it's become natural to wish each other the best and hope that the other will have a great time in whatever they're setting out to do.

It's funny to think of the attachments we are capable of creating in only a few short weeks. We feel like regulars at Slow Train, we have our favorite study spots picked out in Mudd. We feel like those stains on the floor have been there for ages (I mean figuratively; my floor is completely spotless, of course).

I'll admit it was a little lonely in our cozy room on the south face of Burton while Ellie was away. Then I think about how for eighteen years I never shared a room with anyone, and now, after a month, it has become more normal than anything else I know.

It's so easy to fix up a little routine and then stick to it, and so easy to forget that there's always so much more to explore. Freshmen and returning students alike are getting used to new classes, new living spaces, new people and new events. In spite of sounding cheesy, it is so worth going beyond the new, too. There are probably chairs you haven't sat in or windows you haven't looked out of yet on the fourth floor of Mudd because let's face it, that's just a lot of stairs to climb. It's funny how we limit ourselves to what we're used to.

Speaking of what I'm used to, it is time for the weather report. I like to write outside. It's relaxing. The air smells nice. I also know that come winter (ack! What is that?!), I won't be able to for a long, long time. I was working on a short story for a fiction class the other day, and hundreds of golden leaves were literally falling off the trees that surround North Quad. Those picturesque piles of crunchy dried leaves that I've only ever seen in movies and photos were actually forming while I watched!

I don't know what I thought before arriving here, or what I had expected about this elusive season called autumn. Where I come from, it's about ninety degrees for the first week of September, then overnight some wimpy excuses for leaves form soggy little amoebas on the ground, and everybody runs around in their jean jackets and suede boots and babbles about how much they love fall. Come the next day either it's ninety degrees again or it's raining, and you blink and then that's it for that season.

So forget "Autumn." I'm really into this "Fall" thing. What a cleverly descriptive name, I'm serious. And as my friends indigenous to New York and Massachusetts tell me, it's only going to get more stunning.

While the climate of fall is ever so exciting, I know that the rest of this semester will be, too. I'll have a lot of reading, a whole lot more writing, plenty of math problems, countless moments of clumsiness where I trip over my own feet, and even more times when I pick myself back up, wipe the spilled coffee off my textbook, and venture forth.

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